Letter to the Editor: Plumas Audubon opposes Portola mine

The proposed pit mine bordering the city of Portola and adjacent to Sierra Valley has caught the attention of citizens throughout Plumas County. Based on information and opinions made available by Plumas News, the county’s approval of the project would amount to sanctioning an enterprise immensely damaging to the total environment and the well-being of people living anywhere near the operation. By extension, the project could compromise essential, long-term components of the local economy, namely tourism, that depend on clean air and water and healthy wildlife. Damage could persist indefinitely, long after those who profit from the mine have moved on, with costly mitigation efforts falling on taxpayers and future generations.

The Plumas Audubon Society Board of Directors joins with those who oppose the mine. Our Mission Statement is that we “… promote understanding, appreciation, and protection of the biodiversity of the Feather River Region, especially birds, through education, research, and the restoration and conservation of natural ecosystems.” As such, PAS has grave concerns about the proposed mine. Ecosystem degradation is inevitable and would occur on many levels: water depletion, water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, and damage to infrastructure. Many have already pointed out the negative effect these factors have on people; they also compromise native flora and fauna.

In the context of bird populations, some obvious questions arise: What effect will water redistribution and pollution have on bird habitat, food sources, and nesting? How will noise pollution affect breeding? How will night light pollution affect avian navigation? How will predators, such as owls and hawks, who benefit local ranchers and farmers, be affected by this project? How will birds and other wildlife be effectively and non-lethally excluded from the toxic settling pond?

Plumas Audubon Society believes that these questions cannot be satisfactorily addressed as long as the mine is of the currently proposed size, scope, location, or duration. We urge the Plumas County Planning Department, and, ultimately, the Board of Supervisors, to not approve of its existence.



Piers Strailey

President, Board of Directors, PAS