Reclaiming the Sierra

Conference Issue Papers

Reclaiming the Sierra 2015 was designed around evaluating and prioritizing action on cleanup and response.  The Sierra Fund identified the four issues listed below as key topics of conference discussion.  Each is framed by an issue paper developed by The Sierra Fund, available below.*  

The Sierra Fund will produce outcomes papers on each topic using information gathered from the conference proceedings, which will be published after the conference.

Issue 1: Prioritizing remediation efforts

Conference participants focused on progress towards abandoned mine remediation prioritization efforts, and considered the value of a watershed-wide approach facilitated by innovative modelling techniques. Tools to build the capacity for local government-led initiatives to access state and federal resources to address abandoned mine-related issues were discussed. 

Issue Paper: “Prioritization of Remediation Efforts”

Conference Product: Report on progress and recommendations on California abandoned mine site priorities, to be presented to leaders of the agencies involved and the Legacy Mine Site Priorities Committee.


Issue 2: Evaluating best available techniques

Conference participants considered cutting edge scientific advancements related to abandoned mine land assessment, remediation and evaluation of remediation techniques and how to develop best management practices. 

Issue Paper: “Best Available Techniques for Mine-Impacted Lands”

Conference Product: List of tools to evaluate best technologies and prioritized technology development needs, to be presented to leaders of the agencies involved and the Legacy Mine Cleanup Technologies Committee.


Issue 3: Identifying market and certification opportunities for E3 Gold

Conference participants evaluated the opportunities and challenges associated with the multiple benefits of mine reclamation, including creating a market for gold that is sourced from environmentally sound, economically viable and ethically managed (E3) legacy mine remediation activities. The conference considered standards for a new gold product that will allow jewelers, the electronics industry, and other consumers an option to purchase gold that resulted in a net reduction of mercury and other legacy pollution in the environment.

Issue Paper: “The New Gold Rush: Multiple Benefits of Restoration Activities in the Gold Country”

Conference Product: Detailed certification standards and processes for E3 Gold to be presented to the E3 Gold Committee.


Issue 4: Coordinating state and federal agency action

Conference participants considered solutions to the challenges associated with regulating and funding abandoned mine reclamation in the current state and federal agency structure. Facilitated conference discussions identified opportunities for collaboration, as well as funding from federal and state sources.

Issue Paper:  “Improving Incentives for Mine Lands Reclamation Activities”

Conference Product: Action recommendations and strategies to be presented to California’s Secretary for Resources, the Governor, appropriate federal agency leaders, and the Policy/Agency Coordination Committee.



  • The U.S. Geological Survey or its employees did not contribute to the writing of the above issue papers. The issue papers do not represent the views or position of the U.S. Geological Survey or the U.S. Government.
  • Participation of Department of Water Resources’ staff was for the purpose of providing technical information on current Department projects.  Department staff did not contribute to the writing of the issue papers.  The issue papers do not represent the views or position of the Department of Water Resources.