Shortly after details about the Sargent Ranch Quarry proposed at Juristac became public, a groundswell of opposition to this open-pit mine began growing. And we’re not done yet! There are two opportunities coming up – one on Thursday, August 25 and another on Saturday, September 10 – to speak up in favor of protecting this sacred Indigenous landscape and critical wildlife corridor from destruction.
Destructive Sand Mine Proposed on Sacred Land and Habitat
The Sargent Ranch Quarry is an open-pit sand and gravel mine that has been proposed for the property known as Juristac or Sargent Ranch — a nearly pristine landscape of rolling hillsides, sycamore riparian woodlands, serpentine grassland, freshwater wetlands, and unique natural tar seeps. Juristac is the most sacred site of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, who have held ceremonies there for thousands of years. (To learn more about the culture, history and spirituality of Juristac, please visit ProtectJuristac.org.)
Juristac is also a critical wildlife corridor linking the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Diablo Range to the east and the Gabilan Range to the south. Together with Coyote Valley (25 miles to the north), it’s the only viable path for animals to migrate into and out of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Sargent Ranch Quarry would block this wildlife movement pathway and destroy over 400 acres of habitat, literally scooping out the hillsides to create 3 open quarry pits hundreds of feet deep. About 86,000 gallons of groundwater would be pumped each day for quarry operations, and the quarry would generate hundreds of truck trips per day.
Green Foothills, together with our partners in the Protect Juristac coalition, is supporting the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band in the fight to protect Juristac from this destructive threat.
Hundreds of Participants Attend Comment-Writing Workshop
It’s become clear that the public does not want to see this sacred Indigenous landscape and critical wildlife corridor destroyed with a sand and gravel mine. In response to the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Sargent Ranch Quarry, over 200 community members attended a workshop organized by the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band which offered inspiration and guidance in drafting DEIR comment letters. The workshop provided an overview of the DEIR process and tips on how to write effective comment letters. Green Foothills staff helped facilitate breakout sessions on wildlife movement and climate change. A video of the workshop is available on the Protect Juristac website.
Gilroy City Council Votes Unanimously to Oppose Sargent Ranch Quarry
On August 15, Gilroy became the 5th city in the region to officially oppose Sargent Ranch Quarry and call for the protection of Juristac. Joining the cities of Morgan Hill, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sunnyvale, the Gilroy City Council decided to draft a resolution urging the County to deny the permit for the Sargent Ranch open-pit sand and gravel mine.
This action had particular importance for Gilroy, which is the city located closest to the site of the proposed mine. Environmental impacts such as the hundreds of trucks that would drive through Gilroy transporting sand and gravel, and the visuals of the quarry pits and piles of rock that would be visible from just outside the city, moved the City Council to oppose the Sargent Ranch project.
While the city of Gilroy has no authority over whether the mine is approved, the opposition of the City Council, as well as of multiple other cities in the region, is a powerful statement to Santa Clara County signaling the widespread public opposition to this mining project.
Take Action to Protect Juristac: Planning Commission Meeting and Rally for Juristac
Although opposition to the Sargent Ranch Quarry has been growing, we’re not done yet! And your voice makes a difference!
On Thursday, August 25 at 1:30 p.m., the Santa Clara County Planning Commission will hear comments from the public on the Sargent Ranch Quarry project. Please:
- attend this meeting (via Zoom) and tell the Planning Commission not to approve a mine at Juristac, or
- send an email to tell the County Planning Commission to protect Juristac!
Also, save the date for Saturday, September 10 from 1:00-4:00 p.m., when a Rally for Juristac will be held on the plaza in front of the County administrative building at 70 W. Hedding in San Jose. Details are available online.
Next Steps in the Process
Santa Clara County will accept comments from the public on the Sargent Ranch Quarry until September 26. Afterwards, the County will review and respond to all comments received. The final Environmental Impact Report, with responses to comments and any proposed changes to the project, is expected sometime in 2023, at which point the Planning Commission will vote on whether to approve or deny the quarry project.