Take Action to Protect Indigenous Lands at Juristac

Photo Credit: Amah Mutsun Tribal Band

The County of Santa Clara has just released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the proposed Sargent Ranch Quarry, an open-pit sand and gravel mine that would destroy the landscape of Juristac – a critical wildlife linkage and the most sacred site of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. Please see the “What You Can Do” section below for actions you can take to help protect Juristac!

What’s Happening

Juristac is a nearly pristine landscape comprising thousands of acres, including the property known today as Sargent Ranch. This environmentally and culturally important site is being threatened with an open-pit sand and gravel mine that would excavate several pits hundreds of feet deep in these pristine hillsides. The Sargent Ranch Quarry would operate for 30 years, pumping 80,000 gallons of groundwater per day and generating hundreds of daily truck trips along Highway 101 to transport the sand and gravel.

Why It Matters

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 migration corridor for wildlife, and one of the top conservation priorities in the region. Due to its location at the southern tip of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Juristac is the only wildlife linkage connecting the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Gabilan Range to the south, and is one of only two linkages to the Diablo Range to the east (the other linkage being Coyote Valley). Thus, Juristac is the southern gateway for animals to migrate in and out of these mountains.

The proposed open-pit mine would lie directly across this movement corridor. In fact, the quarry’s 61-acre processing plant would be located right next to the Tar Creek underpass under Highway 101, which is the most important wildlife crossing for miles around. The noise and disturbance from heavy vehicle operations, rock crushing and sorting, and other industrial activity would have a serious impact on animals’ ability to use this undercrossing.

What You Can Do

Santa Clara County has just completed its environmental review of the proposed mine, and has released the DEIR for public comment. We need you to join us in taking action to oppose the proposed mine. Here’s what you can do:

  • Submit a written comment in response to the DEIR. To assist supporters in writing effective comments in response to this complex document, the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band is holding an online DEIR comment-writing workshop on Thursday, August 4 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. There will be presentations by the Center for Biological Diversity and the renowned land-use law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger. You can register for the workshop at this link.
  • Attend the August 25 County Planning Commission meeting and speak. The County Planning Commission will hold a Zoom meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 25, to receive public comments on the DEIR. Comments may be submitted via email, but having numerous public commenters attending the online meeting will demonstrate the strength of the opposition to the Sargent Ranch Quarry. We will let you know when the Zoom link becomes available.
  • Attend the Rally for Juristac in early September. Come join the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, Green Foothills, and our partners at a rally in downtown San Jose. Date and location are still to be determined – updates coming soon!
  • If you haven’t done so yet, please sign the petition on the Protect Juristac webpage. You can also follow the Protect Juristac Instagram page and Facebook page.

What’s Next?

The deadline to submit comments on the DEIR is September 26, after which the County must review and respond to all comments from the public. This could take several months, especially if there is a large volume of comments. Then the County Planning Commission will be asked to certify the final Environmental Impact Report and either approve or deny the permit for the Sargent Ranch Quarry. That decision by the Planning Commission may be appealed to the Board of Supervisors, which will then have the final decision.

Your voice does make a difference! Please join the thousands of others who are taking action to oppose this open-pit mine on a critical wildlife corridor and sacred Indigenous landscape.

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