The Grassroots Fund Visits the Sierra Foothills Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund

At Rose Foundation, we have learned the importance not only of supporting grassroots action through funding and mentorship, but also of seeing how that support can dramatically impact communities and the environment first hand. It was with this in mind that we launched our second annual Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund grantee site visit this September. Members of the Grassroots funding board, Grassroots Fund supporters, and Rose Foundation staff journeyed to the Sierra foothills to see the work of Grassroots Fund grantees in action.

IMG_0524The day began at the Northstar Mine Powerhouse and Pelton Wheel Museum in Grass Valley where attendees learned about how the Wolf Creek Community Alliance has used Grassroots Fund support to train and support Grass Valley residents in monitoring water quality in the Wolf Creek watershed and how they use that information to protect Wolf Creek. This was followed by a presentation by Claim-GV, which has successfully fought the re-opening of a gold mine in Grass Valley. Hearing about the dynamic community action that challenged this project was inspiring, highlighting the importance of supporting local activism through small grants and networking resources.

IMG_0559Attendees then traveled to the Food Love Project Farm to tour the site and meet with representatives of Sierra Harvest. After a tour of the farm, attendees learned how Sierra Harvest has helped to revolutionize local food production and consumption by working with schools and hospitals to provide healthy and locally grown produce and to bring students to working farms to see how their food is produced. The Food Love Project Farm received seed money from the Grassroots Fund, and the director of the Farm learned about farming as an intern who was funded by the Grassroots Fund more than a decade ago.

Moving on to our next site, the San Juan Ridge Mine, we met with the San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association and learned about the ongoing repercussions of hydraulic mining from the nineteenth century and the threat of new mining proposals to the local watershed and community.

IMG_1643We concluded the visit at Bear River Campground. There, we met with representatives from the Foothills Water Network, the American River Watershed Institute, and Stop the Garden Bar (Dam) Campaign. They spoke about the disastrous impact of the proposed dam on the region, reporting that the campground itself would be under as much as 90 feet of water if the dam was completed. This would have an incredibly adverse effect on the working class community of Colfax, who uses the campground and the surrounding areas for a variety of purposes. This dam would also destroy a wildlife corridor between two existing reservoirs, leading to a dramatic impact on local wildlife.

The site visit experience proved to be a powerful one for attendees. Rose Foundation Development Director Kyle Livie defined this experience as “utterly transformative” after seeing the citizen scientists of Wolf Creek Community Alliance demonstrate water testing equipment and expertise supported by a Grassroots Fund grant. Site visits help board members learn tangible lessons about the impact of Grassroots Funds grants and make connections with grantees that can provide further support for their groups. We hope to make next year’s site visit even more successful, allowing us all to learn more about the incredible work that is happening on the ground in communities throughout Northern California.

Visit our Facebook page to see more pictures from the Grassroots Fund Site Visit and stay tuned for blog posts from more Grassroots Fund events!

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