Reclaiming the Sierra

Evening Events

Reclaiming the Sierra 2015 included evening events on April 20 and April 21 that both conference participants and other individuals were invited to attend.


Welcome Reception and “Reclaiming the Sierra Tonight Show:  Legacy Mines, California and the World”

Featuring keynote speakers Greg Valerio, Mark Nechodo, and Fran Spivy-Weber and live music by the Sacramento State Jazz Quartet

Monday, April 20, 2015, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Tonight_Show_SQ_no-infoThis link between cleaning up our legacy mines and educating consumers about the need for responsible mining practices was featured in the opening night of The Sierra Fund’s “Reclaiming the Sierra” conference on Monday, April 20 at CSU Sacramento. This talk show-styled panel included leaders representing completely different perspectives, from international ethical jewelers working to identify “fair mined gold,” to protecting and restoring tribal lands devastated by the Gold Rush, to state regulators working to clean up the mine-impacted rivers and forests.

Monday night’s program took the format of a television talk show, with Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund serving as the host and the Sacramento State Jazz Quartet providing live music. Izzy kicked off the program with a quick outline of The Sierra Fund’s vision for the triple bottom line benefits that mine reclamation will bring to California. Each of the next speakers had a chance to make a presentation before sitting down with Izzy to discuss with each other their ideas.

The speakers represent very different perspectives and constituencies with the common concerns about the modern cultural, environmental and health issues associated with legacy mining.

  • Greg Valerio, an international fair gold activist from London, talked about California’s position both as an example of what happens a century after extensive mining, and a model for how to address the impacts, as compared to the current situation around the world, where mining is done in terrifically dangerous conditions, often by indigenous people who are literally enslaved by the mines, using horribly toxic materials including mercury.
  • Marie Barry, former Environment Director of the Washoe Tribe shared her perspective that fish serve as an indicator species for environmental degradation and watershed rehabilitation.
  • Fran Spivy-Weber, a member of the State Water Resources Control Board talked about the State of California’s efforts to regulate mercury discharge into the State’s water system, including the Delta, since 96% of the mercury in the Delta comes from upstream gold and mercury mines in the Coastal and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.
  • Mark Nechodom, Director of the California Department of Conservation, which regulates modern day mining as well as abandoned mine lands remediation, discussed the State’s plans to address the legacy issues associated with mine-scarred lands and legacy, abandoned mines.

The “Reclaiming the Sierra Tonight Show” panel followed a reception in the exhibit hall of the conference where governmental agency, business, art and jewelry exhibits were on display.

Closing Reception and Sierra Crest Awards Presentation

Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 5:30 – 7:00 pm

The Sierra Fund presented the Sierra Crest Awards  in recognition of visionary leaders helping communities reclaim the Sierra from the impacts of legacy mining.  The awards are presented bi-annually to an agency, an organization, and an individual.  Past honorees include California Department of Parks and Recreation, the Karuk Tribe, Rick Humphreys, Charles Alpers, Nevada Irrigation District, and the California Indian Environmental Alliance.  Honorees for 2015 included:

  • Abandoned Mine Lands Program at Department of Conservation
  • Geological and Environmental Sciences Department at California State University Chico
  • Dr. Stephen McCord

Photos of Sierra Crest Award Honorees are available here.

In addition, at this event the winners of the Reclaiming the Sierra 2015 juried Student Poster Session were announced and cash prizes awarded for first, second and third place.