Reclaiming the Sierra

2017 Presentations

Select Presentation Slides and Filmed Speakers are available below:


Morning Plenary Session, May 8

The Sierra Fund’s Platform for Action
Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, The Sierra Fund

A New Look at the Cadillac Desert
Lawrie Mott, former senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council

Climate Change in California
Adrienne Alvord, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Sierra Fund Board of Directors

Stewardship of California’s Resources: Next 100 Years
David Bunn, Ph.D., California Department of Conservation

Assessing Ecological Resiliency Using Functional Redundancy
Thomas O’Neill, The Habitat Institute

Sedimentation Impacts on California Water Infrastructure
Mathias “Matt” Kondolf, Ph.D., University of California Berkeley

Water: A Tribal Perspective
Trina Cunningham, Maidu Summit Consortium and Conservancy


Technical Presentations, May 8

Mine Remediation Session

This session on mine remediation and restoring resiliency addressed the unique issues associated with mine-impacted landscapes with a focus on low-impact methods for remediation and effectiveness evaluation.

Landscape Controls and Regeneration of Soil Hydrologic Function at an Abandoned Mercury Mine in California’s Coast Range
Vic Claassen, Ph.D., University of California Davis

A New Direction: Horizontal Directional Drilling Applications for Abandoned Mine Remediation and Cleanup of Acid Mine Drainage
Michael Schultz, REI Drilling, Inc.

Passive Treatment of Mining Influenced Water at Empire Mine State Historic Park
Steve Lofholm, P.G., Golder Associates, Inc.

Corona Mercury Mine Tracer Test
Gregory J. Reller, P.G., Burleson Consulting

Acid Mine Drainage Impact and Recovery Shown by Long-Term Monitoring of Benthic Macroinvertebrates in Sierra Nevada Streams of the Leviathan Mine Watershed
David Herbst, Ph.D., University of California Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory

Recommended Methodology for Evaluating Site-Specific Arsenic Bioavailability in California Soils
Valerie Hanley, Ph.D., California Department of Toxic Substances Control

Meadow Restoration Session

This session on meadow resiliency identified key components of desired meadow conditions and explored methods for quantifying the benefits of meadow restoration on species diversity, hydrologic function, water quality, and carbon sequestration.

Increasing Pace, Scale and Efficacy of Sierra Meadow Restoration: Applying the Sierra Meadows Strategy
Mark Drew, Ph.D., California Trout

Monitoring Surface-Atmosphere Exchanges in a Partly Degraded Sierra Nevada Meadow
Darren Blackburn, San Francisco State University

Remote Sensing of Meadow Hydrogeomorphic Types Using LiDAR and Multispectral Imagery
Austen Lorenz, San Francisco State University

Meadows at our Headwaters: Promoting Resiliency in the Yuba River Watershed
Rachel Hutchinson, South Yuba River Citizens League


Policy Panels, May 8

Challenges to California’s Water Infrastructure Panel

This panel discussed the state’s water infrastructure from dams to ditches, infrastructure impacts on fish passage and water supply, and the challenges to restoring resiliency to the system in the face of climate change.

Challenges to California’s Water Infrastructure
Jeffrey Mount, Ph.D., Public Policy Institute of California

Oroville Emergency Response and Recovery
Randy Fessler, California Department of Water Resources

Surface Mining and Reclamation Act Implementation Panel

This panel discussed the development of regulations and programs as a result of the legislation passed in 2016, identified opportunities for public input around SMARA enforcement issues, and discussed the impact of the new regulations on communities and the mining industry.

Priorities for Implementing Changes to Mining Laws and Regulations in California
Pat Perez, California Department of Conservation, Office of Mine Reclamation

SMARA Implementation
Mary Pitto, Rural County Representatives of California

A Mining Industry Take on SMARA
Michael Smith, Teichert Materials


Reclaiming the Sierra Tonight Show

Promoting Improved Resiliency for the Ecosystems and Communities of the Sierra Nevada

Gideon Kracov, Chair of the State Mining and Geology Board and John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources join Master of Ceremonies Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund to explore the best policy and regulatory opportunities that can be seized right now to promote improved resiliency for the forests, meadows, rivers and communities of the Sierra Nevada.


Morning Plenary Session, May 9

Ecosystem Resiliency: Pilot Projects to Programs
Carrie Monohan, Ph.D., The Sierra Fund

Prioritization of California Abandoned Mines Exposure-Based Algorithm (CalMEBA)
John Hillenbrand, P.G., United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9

Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program
Jim Branham, Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Regulation of Suction Dredge Mining
Craig Tucker, Ph.D., Karuk Tribe

Connecting Mercury Remediation Policy to Tribe and Community Benefits
Fraser Shilling, Ph.D., University of California Davis


Technical Presentations, May 9

Regional Models for Prioritization Session

This session on regional models explored the use of visual, spatial, and predictive models to inform watershed and landscape scale project prioritization and adaptive management decision-making processes.

StreamBank: Integrated Forest Management for California
Eric Ringelberg, The Freshwater Trust

Westside Brownfields Coalition Assessment Grant
Danielle Dolan, Local Government Commission

Collaborative Natural Resource Management in the Sacramento River Watershed Using OpenNRM Software for Data Aggregation, Analytics and Visualization
Nicole Lutkemuller, 34 North

Forest Resiliency Session

This session on forest resiliency highlighted the implications of fire suppression and logging practices on terrestrial and aquatic forest ecosystems and provided insight into policy changes and on-the-ground techniques that can be used to restore forest health in the Sierra Nevada.

Regional Prioritization of High Value-High Risk Watersheds for Ecological Restoration in the Sierra Nevada-Southern Cascade Bioregion
Edward Smith, The Nature Conservancy

Informing Watershed Planning and Policy in the Truckee River Basin through Stakeholder Engagement, Scenario Development and Impact Evaluation
Kristen Podolak, The Nature Conservancy

Effects of a Restored Fire Regime on Forest Resilience and Water in Yosemite National Park
Gabrielle Boisramé, Ph.D., University of California Berkeley

The High Costs and Low Benefits of Attempting to Increase Water Yield by Forest Removal in the Sierra Nevada
Douglas Bevington, Environment Now


Policy Panels, May 9

Ethical Gold Panel

This panel discussed how to create an environmentally sound and ethical certification process, including identification of techniques and a chain of custody, to bring gold that is produced as a result of restoration activities to the market as a specialized product.

Opportunities for Creating a Market for E3 Gold Sourced from Legacy Mine Remediation in California
Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, The Sierra Fund

Understanding the Goals of Meaningful Tribal Consultation
Anecita Agustinez, California Department of Water Resources

Reservoir Mercury Discharge Panel

This panel addressed pending Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) regulations under development by the State Water Resources Control Board to control mercury sources to reservoirs, reduce mercury methylation in reservoirs, and reduce bioaccumulation of methylmercury through in-reservoir fisheries management.

Mercury Update
Steven Moore, P.E., State Water Resources Control Board

Bear River Sediment Removal Projects and Monitoring
Carrie Monohan, Ph.D., The Sierra Fund

Hydraulic Mines and Debris Dams on the Tahoe National Forest
Carol Purchase, Tahoe National Forest


Sacramento River Charter Boat Tour, May 10

Sierra to Sea: A Watershed-Wide Legacy of Mercury Contamination

The goal of the tour was to visualize the impacts of legacy mining on the Bay/Delta ecosystem and infrastructure, and draw connections between upstream remediation and downstream benefits. The Sierra to Sea Tour built on previous conference tours that featured mine-impacted landscapes in the upper-watershed: Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park (one of the largest hydraulic mine sites in California), Combie Reservoir (behind which mercury laden sediment is accumulating) and the Yuba Goldfields (a 10,000 acre area made up of 19th century hydraulic mining debris).

To understand the connectivity between the headwaters and the Bay, and how cleaning up contamination upstream will benefit those downstream, three experts discussed the topics of upstream mercury mines, mercury in aquatic food webs and human exposure and fish consumption advisories. Link to speakers’ tour handouts below.

Assessment Strategy for Environmental Contaminants: Water Quality and Volume Released from Two Abandoned Mercury Mines
Peter G. Green, Ph.D., University of California Davis

Mercury in the Bay-Delta Aquatic Food Web
Jay Davis, Ph.D., San Francisco Estuary Institute

Delta Mercury Exposure Reduction Program and Delta Fish Consumption Advisories
Lauren Baehner, Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta Conservancy

To view the full tour packet, which includes the above tour handouts as well as background information on the Sacramento River watershed, regional water infrastructure and legacy mines, click here.