Reclaiming the Sierra

2019 Program

Reclaiming the Sierra

October 16-18, 2019 – Grass Valley, CA
A conference to catalyze action around a regional strategy to abate the impacts of mercury  – from the Sierra to Sea.

The Sierra Fund’s three-day 2019 Conference featured an evening art reception, a full day of technical workshops and inspirational speakers, and an on-the-ground tour of mercury sources in the headwaters.

Art at the Edge of Extraction Reception

Wednesday, October 16, 6:00-9:00 pm.

Please click to view more details regarding the Art at the Edge of Extraction Reception.

Headwater Mercury Source Reduction Workshop

Thursday, October 17, 9:00 am-7:30 pm

The Headwater Mercury Source Reduction Workshop focused on strategies to promote headwater resiliency with a vision of adaptive recovery for the environment and communities that are still blighted from centuries-old resource extraction. Speakers and Panelists highlighted lessons learned across a decade of work to abate mercury and challenged conference attendees to join in the regional effort to address headwater sources of mercury.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Jane Hightower opened with her landmark study on the imminent risk of human exposure to mercury.

Bill Craven, Chief Consultant for the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, discussed a policy framework for addressing mercury source reduction.

Four targets for mercury were explored during workshop panels:

Panel 1: Hydraulic Mines and Mine Features: Hydraulic mines and mine features are sources of mercury in the headwaters and there are hundreds of these sites. Experts identified methods to inventory, rank, prioritize and remediate mercury-contaminated hydraulic mines and mine features.
Jeff Onsted, California Department of Conservation
Allan James, University of South Carolina
Willie Wittlesey, Yuba Water Agency

Panel 2: Mercury in Forest and Land Management: Multi-benefit projects to address forest health include hydraulic mine remediation to reduce erosion of sediment and mercury from mine scared lands. The chemical and physical hazards associated with legacy hydraulic mines add a new dimension to traditional forest management practices. Federal land management objectives and how they interface with mercury fate and transport, forest health, and fuels reduction were discussed.
Sue Britting, Sierra Forest Legacy
Charles Alpers, United States Geological Survey
Henry McCann, Public Policy Institute of California
Eli Ilano, United States Forest Service, Tahoe National Forest.

Panel 3: Mercury-Contaminated Sediment in Reservoirs: Mercury-contaminated sediment transported off of hydraulic mines is captured behind man-made facilities that need ongoing maintenance. Mercury contaminated sediment can take up valuable water storage space in reservoirs and cause water quality impacts. Best available technologies to remove mercury-contaminated sediment from reservoirs were discussed and statewide applicability of approaches debated.
Stephen McCord, McCord Environmental Inc. and Delta Tributaries Mercury Council
Jacob Fleck, United States Geological Survey
Greg Jones, Nevada Irrigation District
Jason Muir, NV5
Carrie Monogan, The Sierra Fund

Panel 4: Mercury Exposure via Fish Consumption: Consumption of contaminated fish is the primary pathway of human exposure to the neurotoxin methylmercury. Agency toxicologists explained impacts and public health and policy experts debated best approaches for risk communication.
Lori Copan, California Department of Public Health
Susan Klasing, California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
Shannon McKinney, Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials

Please click here to view more details regarding the Headwater Mercury Source Reduction Workshop.

Mercury in the Headwaters Tour

Friday, October 18, 9:00 am-5:00 pm

Please click here to view more details regarding the Mercury in the Headwaters Tour.