Oppose Rise Gold's "Vested Rights" Claim

March Against the Mine – Constitution Day parade in Nevada City at 2 p.m.

Attend MineWatch Community meeting – Tue, Sep 26 7 pm. to 336 Crown Point Circle, GV

Oppose "Vested RIghts" Claim

Conservation and Advocacy for Our Native Plants & Their Habitats

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is essentially the only organization in California dedicated to the conservation of California native flora. CNPS is recognized for its scientific expertise in native plants; positions and actions advocated by CNPS that are clearly related to native plants generally are given significant weight in the decisions of local and state officials. We lose credibility if others perceive our organization as taking a position on an issue unrelated to native plants.

To preserve our credibility and effectiveness, we focus on issues connected to our mission regarding the conservation of native plants and their habitats. If that connection is not apparent to others in a given case, we must explain those connections very clearly in our positions, statements, and actions, supported by scientific information.

Advocating to Protect Native Plants and Habitats

In the face of increasing threats, advocacy for native plants, for native plant habitats, and for native plants as parts of larger ecosystems is absolutely necessary. Some threats may be direct and obvious, such as removal of plant populations for development; others are indirect, in issues such as fuel management, weed invasions, decreased water availability, degraded air, water, or soil quality, and climate change. When impacts are indirect, CNPS advocates cannot use indirect or theoretical connections to demonstrate how proposed activities will harm or destroy native plants and habitats. We must clearly establish the connection with native-plant conservation.

Doing Science-Based Advocacy

Through the state CNPS staff, programs, and network of Chapters, CNPS provides and supports the best and most up-to-date information and research on California’s native plants, native plant habitats and native plants as parts of larger ecosystems. Making clear the effects of our actions on the conservation of native plants and their habitats is essential to maximizing the value of that science-based advocacy.

Idaho Maryland Mine

Several years ago, Rise Gold Corporation (Rise Gold) applied to Nevada County to reopen the Idaho Maryland Mine (IMM). (The mine shut down in 1956 because of reduced gold productivity.)

Why IMM Matters to CNPS

The Brunswick and Centennial sites of the proposed Idaho Maryland Mine project encompass 10 native plant communities, from montane hardwood and Sierra mixed conifer to annual grasslands, from marsh wetlands to chaparral. Far from being a wasteland despoiled by over 100 years of mining, these sites demonstrate the resilience and critical ecological functions of the native plant communities, wildlife, and aquatic habitat of the Wolf Creek headwaters.

The IMM as proposed would negatively impact – and for most of the two sites, completely destroy — these native plant communities which would be buried under 60-80’ high mountains of mine waste acres across, or covered with buildings, equipment, and pavement. Additionally, reopening the mine would require dewatering miles of underground tunnels. That water would be treated and constantly released into South Wolf Creek, raising it to flood levels 24-7. This increased flow would drastically impact the riparian habitat of South Wolf Creek for as long as the mine is open, a period of up to 80 years.

The proposal, together with the draft and final Environmental Reports (EIRs), now total over 10,000 pages. These documents include environmental reports by Rise Gold’s consultants, reports from county agencies, and many hundreds of comments from the public as well as from other public entities such as the City of Grass valley. The Final EIR and requested zoning changes were rejected unanimously by the Nevada County Planning Commission on May 11, 2023.

What You Can DO Now

Update: Rise Gold, Inc., the mine owner, is asserting that they have a “vested right” to mine this property; the county is legally obligated to hear this case. In response, the community must now engage in new legal, political and outreach efforts to defeat the mine. To protect irreplaceable native plant habitat, we must all continue to oppose the mine at every opportunity by making public comments. The Nevada County Board of Supervisors will meet on this latest Rise Gold motion in “late October.” Stay tuned for a specific date and time.

The board’s hearing on the Final EIR has been postponed.

What You Can Do Now About IMM

  • March Against the Mine – in Constitution Day parade Sep 17, meet by 1:30 p.m. at top of Broad St., Nevada City; parade begins at 2 p.m. Free shuttle from Rood Center to town from noon to 6 p.m.
  • Attend MineWatch Community Meeting Tue., Sep 26, 7 p.m. at Nevada County Association of Realtors Esterly Hall, 336 Crown Point Circle, Grass Valley.
  • Attend public hearings on the issue of “vested rights” when they are announced. Meanwhile, read some background on Rise’s efforts to claim Vested Rights.
  • Submit Comments to the Board of Supervisors.
  • Join the Redbud Chapter Conservation Advocacy Committee. Contact us.
  • Donate to Redbud Chapter CNPS to support advocacy efforts to stop the mine.
  • Subscribe to the Minewatch newsletter and read email updates.
  • Help with and attend community and public agency meetings, including Board of Supervisors meetings. Regardless of the meeting agenda, each agency meeting starts with an opportunity for public comment. Minewatch has valuable tips for commenting.
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to Community Environmental Advocates to support research, community education, and legal fees related to the IMM fight.


As noted above, on May 11 the Nevada County Planning Commission rejected the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and denied the zoning changes requested for the proposed Idaho Maryland Mine (IMM) project. Redbud submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report and the Final Environmental Impact Report,  focusing on the planned destruction of wetlands habitat as well as other impacts on native plants, but these comments were rejected in their entirety by the FEIR. Until the latest move by Rise Gold, the Board of Supervisors was planning on having a final hearing on the mine on October 2 and 3; that is now postponed.

Relevant Documents

Save the Date Notice of Board of Supervisors Public Hearing on October 2 and 3rd, 2023

Comments on DEIR submitted by Redbud

Master Response #4 for IMM DEIR (pp. 80-83)

Master Response #30 and #31 for IMM DEIR (pp. 196-198)

Notice of Final EIR Issued December 16, 2022

Redbud News Articles about IMM

Download these issues of the Redbud News to get more background on the native plants on the IMM site, related environmental issues, and actions Redbud has taken.

January 2023

March 2022

January 2022

September 2021

June 2021

February 2021

April 2020

Relevant Organizations & Information


South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL). See article, “California Can’t Afford the Idaho-Maryland Mine.”

Hell's Half Acre

Widespread damage across Hell’s Half Acre

You may know the line in Joni Mitchell’s song, “Pave paradise and put up a parking lot.” If you’ve ever been to Hell’s Half Acre in Grass Valley, you may think of it as Paradise because of its amazing fields of colorful spring wildflowers. But if you’ve seen it since April 10 or seen photos of the destruction that’s occurred, you’ve seen the “parking lot” there! What happened? And what can we all do now?

Hell’s Half Acre as a Special Paradise

Hell’s Half Acre is located about two miles west of Grass Valley, at the intersection of Rough & Ready Highway and Ridge Road. The Redbud Chapter of CNPS has worked for over 40 years to protect and conserve this unique habitat just northwest of Grass Valley, a wonderland of native wildflowers. CNPS members and professional botanists Karen Callahan and Jennifer Buck-Diaz explained why in a Winter 2016 article about Hell’s Half Acre in Grasslands:

These distinctive open habitats have shallow soils underlain by an ancient solidified volcanic mudflow, or lahar. This cement-like layer, along with gentle slopes, allows rainfall to collect in depressions before slowly draining off or evaporating. Showy, mostly native, annual plants thrive here with little competition from invasive species that have a low tolerance for restricted drainage and shallow soils.

The stunning variety of native plant species found at Hell’s Half Acre surpasses that of any other of the rare lahar/lava cap sites in Nevada County, most of which are on private land and unprotected. Nevada County recognized the special ecological value of HHA in 1997 when it zoned this lahar plant community site as “open space” to be preserved, not developed. No other land in Nevada or Placer Counties has such geologic history, botanical diversity and floral wonder. At this time of year, Hell’s Half Acre is usually ablaze with wildflowers and nodding grasses.

Paradise “Paved”

Now, however, Hell’s Half Acre looks like the wasteland of Mephistopheles. Massive machinery has leveled much of it. Virtually all plants are shorn to the ground — from 75-ft foothill pines (Pinus sabiniana) to 15-ft whiteleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos viscida) to the rare Sanborn’s onion (Allium sanbornii var. sanbornii).

The project plans for a new gas pipeline testing facility, mandated by the California Public Utility Commission(CPUC), also call for scraping off the soil with all its seeds, then graveling the area. They will then add a large building and testing equipment. There is already a cement pad covering several acres of what used to be trees and wildflowers.

The sudden loss of trees and virtually all other vegetation at the site will leave migratory bird species, Cooper’s hawks and other bird species, most of whom return to the same nesting sites here year after year, with no place to raise their young. Similarly, bats that feed on swarms of insects in the meadow will lose valuable habitat, as will dozens of butterfly species that depend on uncommon local plants.

Who Did This and Why?

In mid-2022, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) bought a portion of Hell’s Half Acre to create an inspection site for a gas pipeline that runs out to Wheatland as part of a safety program mandated by the CPUC. PG&E will perform inspections every five to seven years.

Purple solid line running north to south through the green area zoned as open space is where the PG&E construction/damage area is bounded by temporary fencing. This is the border of the parcel purchased by PG&E.

Apparently, PG&E will grade, gravel and fence approximately 10 of the 14 acres they purchased, including the majority of the lahar site with its unique plant community. Multiple versions of these plans have emerged; although CNPS, Audubon, Yuba River Charter School, Bear Yuba Land Trust and others have requested that PG&E release the construction plans and any scientific studies they have conducted, no final plans and none of the scientific reports have been released. These documents, if provided in a timely manner, in conjunction with a pause in construction, would have provided essential context for discussion of immediate and long-term mitigation efforts and restoration efforts. For example, there might have been time for substantial rescue efforts and relocation of plants that would be (and now have been) destroyed during construction. Similarly, steps could have been taken to minimize damage to the 4 acres that are now designated as areas that PG&E will eventually preserve and restore.

Now, even on those 4 acres to be preserved, all trees and shrubs have been cut down, the soil has been scraped and/or severely compacted by heavy machinery used during rain and upon deep mud and standing water; most plants have been killed by construction activity and the soil containing the seed bank has been removed. As a result, the costs of preservation and restoration will be much higher and the level of success much lower.

These same plans and studies are still being requested, because they are required in order to plan any meaningful restoration or remediation work that may be possible after PG&E completes construction – yet the information has still not been provided.

Unanswered Questions

Local residents and organizations have expressed concerns about the apparent inadequate process, lack of public notice, and failure to mitigate or engage in discussion of potential mitigation strategies. Some are asking for environmental studies or reviews, and requesting copies of any such surveys, whether conducted by PG&E or others. As we learn more, Redbud will post updates and alerts on the Conservation Advocacy section of our website.

If you have further questions or information, please share with Redbud, and we will pass them along to the PG&E public representative for this project. 

What We Can Do Now

We cannot undo what has been done. We can, however, advocate for the best possible outcome for HHA. This could include mitigation, such as salvaging plants, soil, and seedbank; restoration of any portions of the site that will not be covered by building, access road, and/or gravel. We are also advocating that PG&E or the county secure protection for the remaining portion of Hell’s Half Acre, designated as open space in 1997. This remaining portion of the Hell’s Half Acre is private property. We can also aim to make sure this doesn’t happen in other environmentally sensitive places. In the long run, help us work for these outcomes:

  • Convince PG&E to allow CNPS to harvest seeds and transplant any rare or sensitive plants that are within the area being developed. Though PG&E claims to be moving and retaining disturbed top soil with native seed-bank potential, they have not consulted with CNPS about where to move and store this soil, how to protect it, and how to use or re-distribute this soil at a later date. A significant number native-plant seeds and bulbs in that soil may still be viable, but much as already been lost.
  • Urge PG&E to purchase the remaining designated open space portion of HHA and donate it to Bear Yuba Land Trust, with sufficient funds to maintain it.
  • Engage in conversations with PG&E and the CPUC to evaluate how projects like this can proceed in the future without grave environmental damage. This may involve reviewing the role that state legislation and policy played in the saga at Hell’s Half Acre and if changes are necessary.
  • Speak (remotely) at an upcoming public meeting of the CPUC Commmission. The next meeting is June 29 at 11 a.m. (See details, including how to call in to speak.) The meeting after that is July 13. Urge the CPUC to acknowledge PG&E’s violations of required notice of their planned actions; to, therefore, require PG&E to fund appropriate, professional restoration of HHA; and to take action as a commission to require that such projects conform to federal and state environmental review to prevent such losses in the future.

Right now, you can help convince PG&E to halt work at HHA until we can establish a plan to minimize and compensate for the destruction.


Recent Updates

Several community members and organizations have filed or in the process of filing formal complaints with the CPUC about PG&E’s actions at HHA. We will keep you informed when opportunities arise to support these efforts. Others have written letters that have been published in The Union. CNPS Redbud and several other local environmental organizations are working together more closely than ever before. More than 1600 people signed our petition to PG&E asking that they halt work at HHA and collaborate on restoration effort. We have submitted the petition to PG&E (and to the CPUC); no response so far.

Redbud leaders and botanists have met onsite with PG&E and representatives of several other concerned organizations. PG&E has now started allowing one of our Redbud professional botanists to flag plants that should be preserved and transplanted. We hope that this process will continue, and that joint mitigation efforts will expand as appropriate.

Advocate! Contact Public Officials.

Public Officials Representing Redbud Area

When you care about a conservation advocacy issue involving native plants, their habitats, and their ecosystems, speak up! Write, send email, call — but do reach out. (This list is under development. Please email us with any corrections, changes, or suggestions.)


U.S. Senators Diane Feinstein  and Alex Padilla

U.S. Representative  Kevin Kiley (U.S. District 3)


CA State Senator  Brian Dahle (District 1)

CA State Assembly Representative Megan Dahle (District 1)

Nevada County

Nevada County Board Of Supervisors (Meets 2nd & 4th Tuesday, 9 a.m. )

Planning Department

Planning Commission

  • Danny Milman, Dist 1  Represents Nevada City, Banner Mountain
  • Laura Duncan, Dist 2  Represents South County
  • Terence McAteer, Dist 3  Represents Grass Valley
  • Mike Mastrodonato, Dist 4  Represents Penn Valley, French Corral, North San Juan

Board of Contractors: 149 Crown Point Ct. Ste A, Grass Valley, 95945    (530) 274- 1919/  info@nccabuildingpros.com

Assoc. Of Realtors: 336 Crown Point Circle. (530) 272- 2627  https://nevadacountyhomes.com/contact-us/

Cities in Nevada County

Grass Valley

Grass Valley City Council  (Meets  2nd & 4th Tuesday, 7 p.m.)

  • (530) 274-4350
  • Jan Arbuckle, Mayor  (530) 274- 4316
  • Hilary Hodge, Vice Mayor (530) 274- 4318
  • Council Members: Bob Branstom, Tom Ivy, Haven Caravelli
  • Tom Last, Community Development Director  (530) 274- 4711
  • Lance Lowe, Principal Planner  (530) 274- 4712

Planning Department

 Parks & Recreation  (530) 274- 4350


Nevada City

Nevada City City Council  (Meets 2nd & 4th Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.)

City Engineer   Bryan McAlister, City Engineer (530) 265-2496 x126  bryan.mcalister@nevadacityca.gov

Nevada City Parks & Recreation    Dawn Zydonis  (530) 265-2496 x129    dawn.zydonis@nevadacityca.gov

City Planner    Amy Wolfson   Amy.Wolfson@nevadacityca.gov

Planning Commission

  • Thomas Nigh, Chairman
  • Amy Cobden
  • Wendy Ermshar
  • Peter Van Zant

Town of Truckee Council (Meets 2nd & 4th Tuesday, 5 p.m.)

Placer County

Placer County Board Of Supervisors (Meets 2nd & 4th Tuesday, 9 a.m. )

Department Of Public Works (& Parks)

Community Development    Steve Pedretti  (530) 745- 3099

Builder Exchange & Contractor Assoc:  231 Cherry Ave. #101, Auburn, 95603    (530) 889- 3953/  placerbx.com/contact/

Assoc. of Realtors:  270 Technology Way, Rocklin. (916) 624- 8271/  pcaor.com/contacct/


Cities in Placer County



Auburn City Council (Meets 2nd & 4th Monday, 6 p.m.)

City Engineer

Auburn City Manager (Interim)    Joan Phillipe (530) 823-4211 x 191  jphillipe@auburn.ca.gov

City Planner (Temporary)    Larch Mcneill  (530) 823- 4211 x 140  lmcNeill@auburn.ca.gov

Planning Commission

  • Michael Lemberg
  • Steve Hiatt
  • Steve Galyardt
  • Fred Vitas
  • Glen Kramer

Sustainability Advisory Committee

  • Sandra Amara (City Council)
  • Cathay Johnson (Transportation)
  • Ann Bowler (Private Sector)
  • Michael Lemberg (Private Sector, Business/ Development)
  • Members At- Large: Rudy Beauchamp, Robert Whitson, Glen Kramer

Colfax City Council (Meets 2nd & 4th Wednesday, 6 p.m.)

  • (530) 346-2313   https://colfax-ca.gov/government/city-administration/staff/
  • Trinity Burruss, Mayor
  • Marni Mendoza, Mayor Pro Tem
  • Members:  Sean Lomen, Kim Douglass, David Ackerman

City Manager    Wes Heathcock  Wes.Heathcock@colfax-ca.gov

Public Works Director    Martin Jones  director@colfax-ca.gov

City Engineer    Carl Moore  planning@colfax-ca.gov

Colfax Planning Director    Emmanuel Ursu  (530) 346- 2313 planning@colfax-ca.gov


Lincoln City Council  (Meets 2nd & 4th Tuesday, 6 p.m.)

  • lincoln.ca.gov/   https://www.lincolnca.gov/en/our-government
  • Holly Andreatta, Mayor, Dist 1  (916) 434- 3290
  • Alyssa Silhi, Dist 2 (916) 434- 3291
  • Paul Joiner, Mayor Pro Tem, Dist 3 (916) 434- 3292
  • William “Bill” Lauritsen, Dist 4 (916) 434- 3293
  • Dan Karlskint, Dist 5 (916) 434- 2490

Planning Commission

(For the following offices: Names of officials not listed on government website)

  • City Engineer (916) 434- 3233
  • City Manager  (916) 434- 2490 X 4
  • Lincoln Public Works (Parks) (916) 434- 2450
  • Planning Department (916) 434- 2470

Roseville City Council   (Meets 1st & 3rd Wednesday, 6 p.m.)

City Manager    Dominick Casey (916) 774- 5362  CityManager@roseville.ca.us

City Planning Manager    Greg Bitter (916) 774-5276  planningdivision@roseville.ca.us


Water & Resources

Info to come…

Nevada Irrigation District

U.S. Forest Service

Our Mission

To conserve California native plants and their natural habitats, and increase understanding, appreciation, and horticultural use of native plants.