Contact Us

P.O. Box 2121
Mariposa, CA 95338



The Environment Is Our Economy

Thank you for visiting our web site.

Our organization is primarily devoted to maintaining and improving the quality of life in Mariposa County. We also are interested in regional, state-wide, and federal issues that have an impact in our local area.

MERG seeks to seriously study the pros and cons of important county issues and present them to county officials and residents so that they can make informed decisions about the future of Mariposa County. This is done through our presentations to the Mariposa Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, our website and newsletter, and through public news media as may be appropriate. The Board meets the first Monday of each month at 9:00 am. The public is welcome to attend. Please contact us to obtain the current location as we normally meet in private homes and the location is subject to change.




In the past two years, the MERG Board of Directors has discussed mining issues on a few occasions and we generally support Option 2 (Amendment to the 2006 General Plan) that is currently before the Board of Supervisors.  Our view is that mining is legal in California and that anyone who wishes to undertake such an effort is entitled to do so in accordance with the law.  This means CEQA, SMARA, Mariposa County administrative or conditional use permits, etc.  We would only establish a formal position once the MERG Board determines that some kind of action is necessary in accordance with our mission to inform, educate, and engage the community. 

We recognize that mining is an economic activity that can have very beneficial impacts on the operator(s) and the community at large. We are also aware that Mariposa County needs economic development.  Mining done in a law-conforming and responsible manner can help achieve this end.  We are also very aware of the adverse impacts that historical mining has left on this County, the region and the State.  These range from dangerous abandoned open pit mines, damaged water supplies, non-restored mining sites, etc.  We do not object to responsible mining operations but we certainly do not want repeats of earlier mining depredations. 

The MERG Board has a number of individuals serving as Directors who come from diverse backgrounds including scientists.  We don’t have any mining experts.  At a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, the MERG Chairman stated that he would like to make the acquaintance of some miners and learn about their occupation. We have reached out to the small miners but have not found any acceptance.  We did receive invitations from two large miners and visited their sites and were very impressed with the efficiency and quality of their operations.  We could not find fault or object in any way.

Additionally, we invited Ron Loya, the President of the Mariposa Museum and History Center to a recent meeting to educate us on “green mining” techniques. It appears that there is technology available that can help both small and large mining operations minimize environmental impact and still keep them efficient and economically viable. Mr. Loya has now published a white paper on GOLD MINING AND THE GREEN MOVEMENT that can be read here.

The contentious issue at present seems to be the Fremont Gold Mining Company.  This company is now doing exploratory work on the site of the old “Golden Bell Mine” which MERG successfully opposed commencing in 1989.  The reason for our opposition was that it was to be an open pit, cyanide heap leach mine that would seriously and adversely impact our environment.  The community strongly opposed this and the project did not go forward.  We have met several times with senior executive management of the Fremont Gold Mining Company and we are impressed with their methodology for operating their mine should their tests indicate that mining operations would be profitable.  Based on their proposals and our discussions with them, we presently believe the mining can be done in an environmentally responsible manner.  We will remain vigilant and carefully review all applications they may submit to commence operations.   We believe they have the potential to positively impact our economy and wish them well in their efforts.

We also understand there are many small miners out there ranging from under an acre and thus exempt from SMARA, or the need for a mining permit, up to very significant operations on some of the County’s larger parcels.  It is these larger operations that by their very nature should receive local input or control, and yet under previous mining code are the projects that are exempt from that local review via a Conditional Use Permit.  The Mariposa County Board Of Supervisors has now voted to require a Conditional Use Permit for larger industrial scale mining on these larger parcels just like have been required in the past on smaller parcels, but a referendum currently under review, if valid, will delay implementation of these new requirement until after a vote by the citizens of the County is conducted.   We do understand that there are those that like the fact that our County has less regulation of these large mines than any of our neighbors or most other counties in the State, but at the same time there are those that want to assure that these operations do take into account the potential impact on neighbors and the community in general.  Bringing our mining code into compliance with the vast majority of counties in the rest of the State is hardly a radical idea.

Visit  our new Facebook Page where we are currently discussing the mining and Conditional Use Permit issue


AN OVERVIEW OF GOLD MINING AND THE GREEN MOVEMENT We are very pleased that local historial and mining expert Ron Loya has chosen to share his expertise on Green Mining technology with our readers.

Biomass Project: A possible biomass facility was discussed at various candidates' forums for the 2014 Election for District 1 Supervisor. MERG has studied this proposed idea and is fully supportive of the project.

Much of the impetus for this project is the growing recognition that we need to reduce the fuel load in our forests for the sake of forest health and fire safety.  The big question is what is the best way to deal with the slash produced in this effort with respect to costs and benefits to the environment, climate change and our local economy?

The proposal is that a woody biomass facility in Mariposa County would use slash from forest thinning projects for the generation of bioenergy and commercial byproducts.  The facility would produce a revenue stream that should help finance forest thinning projects, attract new industries and jobs to the County, and possibly have other positive economic and environmental benefits for the county and the region. More about the project can be studied here.


H.R. 934 Will Have Adverse Impacts on Merced Wild and Scenic River

Update February 2014: The language of H.R. 934 has been included in Republican sponsored H.R. 3964, the "Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act" which has now passed the House of Representatives. California's Democratic Senators have proposed their own drought relief bill that does not de-designate the segment in question of the Wild and Scenic Merced River.

Tom McClintock, Congressman from Elk Grove, who now includes Mariposa County in his district, has introduced H.R. 934, a bill that would remove Wild and Scenic Protection for a half mile of the lower Merced River above Bagby.

Merced's Irrigation District (MID) has proposed increasing the water storage in Lake McClure by raising the maximum lake water level to 877'. This increase would impact or flood a segment of the Merced Wild and Scenic River, a violation of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

In the last session of Congress, Congressman Jeff Denham first proposed H.R. 869 and then H.R. 2578 to support MID’s effort by removing this segment of the Merced River from Wild and Scenic protection. While H.R. 2578 passed the Republican controlled House of Representatives, a companion bill was never introduced in the Senate and Denham’s bill died when that session of Congress adjourned.

Now Tom McClintock has introduced H.R. 934 with language identical to H.R. 2578 and is promoting the bill by suggesting that the current Wild and Scenic River boundary is a simple “mistake” that his bill would “fix it” by adjusting the Wild and Scenic boundary to the current FERC boundary ½ mile upstream, thus allowing MID to raise the reservoir level by 10 feet.

The current Wild and Scenic boundary is not a “mistake” but was set at the legal maximum high water level for the reservoir with the unanimous approval of the MID Board of Directors when that segment of the Merced River was added to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1992.  You can read more about the logic and standard practice of setting the Wild and Scenic boundary inside the FERC boundary here

MERG has compiled our thoughts on the impact of these bills, along with substantial background materials, which may be accessed by clicking on this link.

Friends of the River also has an excellent Fact Sheet on the current status of the MID project and the threats to the Wild and Scenic Merced River.

To date no segment of a Wild and Scenic River has ever been removed from protection, so passage of H.R. 934 bills would set a significant, negative precedent with national consequences for other Wild and Scenic Rivers.


Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Government (MERG) were delighted and pleased to hear of interest in our website and Links page by Mrs. McVey’s 5th grade class in the Cleary Mountain School District (Virginia).  They have shared with us their favorite links and we are pleased to include them on our Links page as well as links to Mrs. McVey's website and the school website.


The pictures below are reminders of the natural treasures that we have and the value of preserving them. We hope you find the information here of benefit and welcome your feedback.

The magnificent picture of Tuolumne Meadows The magnificent picture of Tuolumne Meadows The magnificent picture of Tuolumne Meadows The magnificent picture of Tuolumne Meadows
The magnificent picture of Tuolumne Meadows at the top of this page is courtesy of Mr. Al Kudela, a resident of Mariposa and a talented photographer.