Over 5,000 comment letters were submitted challenging Juristac mining plans. What comes next?

In a monumental outpouring of support from the public, organizations, and agencies, over 5,000 public comment letters were submitted to Santa Clara County challenging the proposed Sargent Quarry project that threatens Juristac. This is likely the largest number of comments ever received by the County regarding a proposed development project.

We cannot thank everyone enough who took the time to submit a letter during the comment period, whether short or long. We hope you will celebrate this collective achievement with us in your own way, as the new year arrives.

What’s next?

Looking forward into 2023, many are asking, what is next? The most pivotal moments to stand with us to protect Juristac are yet to come.

In the coming months, the County and their consultants will be reviewing and preparing responses to all of the submitted comments on the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and revising the EIR based on the feedback received. We don’t know how many months this will take the County to undertake.

Once the county completes the Final EIR, the Santa Clara County Planning Commission will schedule a public meeting during which they will likely both 1) vote on whether to certify/accept the Final EIR, and 2) vote on whether to approve or deny the permit for the proposed mining project. As soon as we receive notice of the Planning Commission meeting, we will release a call to action asking all our supporters to attend.

Does that mean that we’ll just wait around until the County schedules their hearing? Definitely not! This is as important a time as ever to continue to be outspoken and to mobilize community support for the protection of Juristac. Here are some ways to be involved in the coming stretch (and stay tuned for more updates next year!):

Actions you can take now

  • Organize informational, art or action-oriented events in support of protecting Juristac. Broad community support from across the social and political spectrum is essential to our collective efforts to ensure that the County Supervisors vote to deny the mining project when the decision comes before them. Email protectjuristac [at] gmail.com to request materials or support.
  • Increase the visibility of Juristac: Put up flyers, business signs or yard signs in Santa Clara County. Create social media posts about Juristac and ask accounts with large followings to put out their own posts. Set up a Protect Juristac table at public events to share info and inspiration.
  • Fundraise for the protection and stewardship of Juristac—and to prepare for future legal costs. Donate here and read more about fundraising below.
  • Help get city resolutions passed Do you live in a city in Santa Clara County or near to Juristac? Consider talking with your local council representatives, asking them to adopt a city council resolution in support of protecting Juristac. So far, the cities of Morgan Hill, Santa Cruz, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and Gilroy have passed resolutions. Email protectjuristac [at] gmail.com to coordinate efforts.
  • Write to Santa Clara County decisionmakers opposing the mine and ask organizations, clubs, churches or businesses you are connected with to submit letters or pass resolutions. See examples and tips on our Statements of Support page. — Although the public comment period on the draft EIR is closed, it’s as important as ever for the Santa Clara County Supervisors and Planning Commissioners to hear from you regarding the critical importance of protecting Juristac and denying this mining project. (And if your letter specifically addresses issues in the draft EIR, the County may choose to incorporate it in the final EIR response to comments.) Your message can help reach the hearts and minds of the decision makers who will be voting to approve or deny the mining permit.
  • Help recruit petition signatures: The Amah Mutsun Protect Juristac petition has not been delivered to the County yet and continues to grow. Help us reach 30,000 signatures by sharing out the petition!
  • Follow @protect.juristac on Instagram and the Protect Juristac Facebook page for ongoing updates, and share posts. Sign the petition and check the subscribe box to receive occasional email updates.
  • Read through submitted comment letters that interest you to increase your knowledge of Juristac and the many issues at hand. See the first batch of letters below!

Thank you for helping to carry forth the vision of a protected Juristac with clear flowing streams and flourishing native habitats stewarded by the Amah Mutsun.

First batch of comment letters for reading

For those who would like to begin reading some of the more substantial comment letters that were submitted during the public comment period, we’ll be posting them for your perusal in manageable batches. Here’s a first set:

Comment letters shared in previous posts:

Why help fundraise to protect Juristac?

To date, over $26,000 has been raised through this website’s donation page. Those contributions from generous donors have gone a long way to strengthen the Amah Mutsun campaign to protect Juristac, allowing efforts to ramp up at key moments.

Funds are needed for many purposes, to ensure that we advocate for Juristac in the most effective ways possible. Campaign costs include printing materials (flyers, posters, banners), event-related fees, gas money for tribal members to attend meetings, and paying Amah Mutsun stewards to do continued monitoring and research at proposed development sites. On the legal and consultation side, costs include attorney fees, legal research, other consultant fees (IE, archaeologists, biologists) as well as the costs of potential future litigation.

While contributions so far have been amazing, we foresee a much greater need for financial support on the horizon. For example, if the tribe is forced to take the fight for Juristac into the courts, did you know that a single lawsuit typically costs well over $100,000? Supporting Amah Mutsun fundraising efforts helps the tribe prepare to take necessary legal action to stop the desecration of Juristac. There are many permits required before the mining plan can move forward; the tribe intends to intervene at every viable opportunity.

The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band is currently facing multiple proposed development projects that could damage or destroy sacred sites and culturally significant landscapes, including several in the sacred landscape of Juristac. These projects include the Sargent Quarry Project, the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project, the Betabel Commercial Development and other proposed commercial development nodes along Highway 101 in San Benito County. In part because of the tribe’s federally unrecognized status, obtaining funds to support the work of protecting cultural sites is a persistent hardship. A lack of financial resources significantly disadvantages the tribe in efforts to adequately review and challenge projects advanced by large developers and public agencies.

To donate, just visit our online donation page or send a tax-deductible donation via check, wire transfer or Donor Advised Fund grant to the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, specifying that your donation is for the “Sacred Lands Defense Fund”:

Amah Mutsun Land Trust
2460 17th Avenue #1019
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
TIN# 32-0447436