Target: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
Goal: To halt gold mining operations near the border of Yosemite National Park and prevent toxic runoff and stream damming from destroying California’s treasured Park.
Gold has been mined in California since the mid 19th century, but today’s mining operations yield much greater costs to their environment. There are 185 active gold mines within a ten mile radius of Yosemite’s border; these mines involve the use of cyanide, lead, mercury, cadmium, and sulfuric acid in the ore extraction and separation process. Due to poor clean-up efforts, many of these toxins find their way into the watershed, where they remain indefinitely. We must take steps to stop mining on the border of Yosemite before the park is contaminated beyond repair.
While gold mining once involved simply a pan and some persistence, it has evolved into a large-scale industrial operation, requiring approximately 120 tons of ore to be removed from the earth to yield enough gold for a 4-oz wedding band. After the ore is extracted, it is soaked in cyanide to separate the gold; the leftovers of this process are often left in open pits, or, worse, in tailing ponds creating by damming nearby streams. Mining companies frequently forgo the necessary cleanup process and move on to the next mine, leaving a wake of toxins that seeps into the ground and water supply; there are 47,000 abandoned mines in California.
We must make sure that gold mining does not come at the expense of Yosemite, the park that photographer Ansel Adams described as “a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space”, which is also home to a number of endangered species including the Sierra Nevada big horn sheep, the Mount Lyell shrew, and the Pacific Fisher. Help demand that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar restrict mining near Yosemite so that the environmental damage that the mines produce is mitigated and Yosemite remains for future generations.
Dear Mr. Salazar,
Yosemite National Park is one of those rare natural wonders that reminds us of the beauty and mystique of the natural world. However, it is being threatened by the impacts of toxic gold-mining on its border; there are 185 active mines within ten miles of the parks boundaries. The mines leave mercury, lead, cadmium, sulfuric acid, and cyanide in their wake, and mining companies often fail to clean up their harmful leftovers.
In addition to the direct chemical waste that the mines leave, companies often damn small streams and rivers to assist the mining process or to discard excess ore. When these damns are on the edge of Yosemite, they have a direct impact on water flow within the park, and lead to a domino effect of environmental consequences on both flora and fauna.
4 million people visit the Park each year to witness its near-unblemished beauty and majesty. Please help ensure that Yosemite survives for future generations by restricting mining near the border of the Park.
[Your Name Here]