Please Tell the County Planning Commission to Protect Juristac

Photo Credit: Amah Mutsun Tribal Band

Tell the County Planning Commission to Protect Juristac

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, 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 tell the Planning Commission not to approve a mine at Juristac!

What’s Happening

Santa Clara County has recently released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the proposed Sargent Ranch Quarry, an open-pit sand and gravel mine that would excavate several pits hundreds of feet deep in the landscape of Juristac. The County Planning Commission is holding a virtual meeting via Zoom to receive comments from the public on the DEIR and the mining project. Please note that the Planning Commission will not be voting on the project yet – this meeting is just to receive comments.

The DEIR found 14 separate significant and unavoidable impacts from the mine, including to tribal cultural resources, wildlife movement, air quality, transportation, and aesthetics. These significant and unavoidable impacts will occur even with attempts at mitigation.

In particular, the DEIR found that there would be “permanent and irreversible alterations” to the Juristac Tribal Cultural Landscape, and that no reclamation activities could ever restore it to a condition that reflects its cultural significance. The DEIR also found that the mine, due to its location directly across a major wildlife corridor in and out of the Santa Cruz Mountains, would interfere substantially with wildlife movement, which could reduce genetic variability and make animal populations more vulnerable to local extinction.

Although the Planning Commission will not be voting on the project at this point, this is an important opportunity to let the Commissioners know that the public doesn’t want a mine at Juristac.

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

If you’re able to join a Zoom meeting, please attend the virtual Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, August 25 and speak during public comment to let the Commissioners know you want Juristac to be protected. A short, 1-minute statement is all that’s needed to make your voice heard.

The meeting will start at 1:30 p.m. and is likely to last all afternoon. Here’s the meeting agenda and the County page with meeting details, including links to the staff report and other documents. You can join the meeting via this Zoom link (the Zoom link is also in the meeting agenda).

If you’re unable to join the August 25 meeting, you can still take action by submitting an email to the Planning Commission. You can also sign the petition to protect Juristac.

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