There are 185 active mining claims within 10 miles of Yosemite — close enough that cyanide and other toxic chemicals used in the mining process could contaminate rivers, forests and meadows around the park, and harm the peregrine falcon, black bear and other wildlife that live there.
More than 185 mining claims threaten the park
Back in 1849, someone looking for gold could put a pan in a river and, with luck, come up with a gleaming nugget. Today, gold mining is a large-scale industrial operation — and makes a large-scale, industrial mess.
For every ounce of gold they extract, mining companies use heavy machinery to remove between 30 and 100 tons of ore from the earth, with devastating consequences for the surrounding forests, meadows and rivers. Once the ore is extracted, it is doused with cyanide to separate the gold, and the leftovers remain in open pits or tailing ponds, where sulfuric acid, lead, cadmium and mercury can leach into the environment for centuries. Tailing ponds are often built by damming streams, replacing entire watersheds with lakes of contaminated water.
When the mines are no longer profitable, the companies pack up and roll out — often leaving irreparable damage, and a huge cleanup bill, in their wake. There are already 47,000 abandoned mines in California.
At stake: California’s irreplaceable treasure
Yosemite is home to Half Dome, Tuolumne Meadow and Yosemite Falls, as well as peregrine falcon, black bear, mountain lion and other wildlife. Every year, more than 4 million people visit Yosemite to experience what Ansel Adams called “a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”
The park is also home to threatened and endangered species including the Sierra Nevada big horn sheep, the Mount Lyell shrew, and the Pacific Fisher.
With your help, we can save Yosemite from toxic mining
We won’t let Yosemite, or the millions of Californians who love it, fall victim to the boom-bust logic of the mining corporations. Your support will make it possible for our staff to do research, make our case to the media, reach out to critical constituencies, testify in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., and persuade government officials to make the right choices.
We can save Yosemite from toxic mining, but we need everyone to get involved. Join our campaign by sending a message to the Obama administration today, telling him that you love Yosemite and want to see it protected.
Urge the Obama administration not to allow toxic mining on Yosemite's borders.
- There are 185 active mining claims within 10 miles of Yosemite's borders.
- To mine enough gold for a 1-oz. wedding band, up to 100 tons of ore could be removed from the earth.
- The industrial mining process pollutes the environment with cyanide, sulfuric acid and heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury — sometimes for hundreds of years after a mine is abandoned. There are 47,000 abandoned mines in California right now.
- Yosemite hosts 4 million visitors each year and is home to endangered and threatened species including the Sierra Nevada big horn sheep, the Mount Lyell shrew, and the Pacific Fisher.