A Brief History of the San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association:
The roots of the Taxpayers Association go back to 1972 when a few dozen local residents founded the San Juan Ridge Study Group to explore issues of community concern. Meetings focused on issues such as county planning and building department policies, permits and code requirements for owner/builders; fire preparedness; forestry practices; and involvement with the Ridge’s public schools. In 1975 the group founded the SJRTA, membership includes residents and non-resident landowners of the San Juan Ridge and other concerned citizens (bylaws). The Association accomplishes its purpose by research, education, analysis, community outreach and advocacy. Our current focus is the proposed reopening of the San Juan Ridge Mine.
The primary purpose of the San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association is to promote the environmental, social and economic well-being of the San Juan Ridge community, located in Nevada County, California.
Issues that the association has been involved in include:
1977 to 1985: SJRTA represents the community for the eight years that Placer Service Corporation is applying for permits to conduct exploratory gold mining operations and an open-pit mine in the North Columbia diggings.
1980: The association provides community input into Nevada County’s 1980 General Plan.
1980 to present: SJRTA hosts “Meet the Candidates” forums for supervisor, sheriff, and other county-wide electoral races.
1984: SJRTA responds to a proposal by CitiGold American, Ltd., for an open-pit cyanide leach heap mine near Sweetland.
1985: SJRTA ensures that environmental and community protection measures are included in a use permit for exploratory mining in the North Columbia diggings by Coastal Mining Company.
1985–1986: The association works to draft a “noise element” and “minerals management element” for the 1980 General Plan.
1989: Despite hundreds of hours of SJRTA efforts in hammering out yet another use permit for exploratory mining in the diggings, county planning commissioners approve a new permit that contains intolerable noise levels and other unacceptable conditions. SJRTA files an appeal with the Board of Supervisors, but the appeal provides little relief from the onerous use permit.
1990–1993: The association is involved in the update to Nevada County’s General Plan, doing what it can to protect the rural quality of the San Juan Ridge in the face of strong pro-development forces on the planning commission and board of supervisors.
1994: SJRTA sets up a series of social get-togethers and meetings with its members and residents of Ananda Village. Prior to this, the relationship between the groups has been strained due to SJRTA opposition to Ananda’s sustained efforts to create more dense zoning versus taxpayers’ efforts to maintain rural zoning.
1992–1997: SJRTA’s Mining Committee recognizes that a project proposed by Siskon Gold Corporation for an underground mine might be less damaging than previous open-pit mine proposals. The committee crafts a use permit with Siskon and the county and spends thousands of hours riding herd on the project and the agencies responsible for monitoring it.
2013: San Juan Ridge Mine applies for a permit to reopen mine. History of mining on this property.
2016: County closes San Juan Ridge Mine permit application.
Board of Directors:
Sol Henson, President – I have been assisting the Taxpayers with the water supply based issues on the mine. I was raised on the San Juan Ridge and attended Grizzly Hill School from 1993 to 1997 and have a childhood full of memories attending community events and spending time at the river on the ridge. I received a master’s degree in hydrology at UC Davis in 2004. Since then I have worked in Ethiopia and Uganda on community development projects and with the group Sierra Streams Institute in Nevada City as a staff researcher. Recently I returned to Grizzly Hill School to substitute teach and to support the school that prepared me so well.
Kurt Lorenz , Vice President – A retired teacher, Kurt has lived on the Ridge now for 36 years. After helping to resist the attempt to build an open pit mine in the diggings in the 1980s, and then working closely with others to develop the Remedial Water Supply Plan for the Siskon Mine project in the early 1990s, Kurt was appointed to the Water Review Team that had to deal with the failed wells in 1995. After four years as a Nevada County Planning Commissioner, and then years of work on the Twin Ridges Elementary School Board, Kurt is now vice president of the SJRTA and is working with the Board of Directors to prevent the re-opening of this mine.
Nancy Lorenz, Treasurer – Nancy moved here in 1978 to teach for the then San Juan Ridge Unified School District. This was right after the Oak Tree school fire and classes were in separate buildings all over the district. She taught the last class at the North Columbia school, before it became the Cultural Center. Nancy retired from teaching after 25 years of service in the now Twin Ridges School District. She serves on the board of the Cultural Center, the Fire Auxiliary, and volunteers for the Family Resource Center.
Sara Greensfelder, Secretary – Sara has lived on the San Juan Ridge for 40 years. Working primarily in the non-profit world, she was one of the earliest directors of the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center in the 1980’s, and went on to help establish and direct the California Indian Basketweavers Association. Sara’s two children, Louis and Rainy, were raised on the Ridge, and with the births of grandchildren, her family is now represented by four generations here. Sara serves as media coordinator of SJRTA.
Alexa Wondergem – Alexa moved to the San Juan Ridge in 1977 at 6 months old. Her parents were coming from Southern California which was impersonal and indifferent and it was important to them that their child be raised in a community that was caring, close-knit and shared common rural ideals. Alexa went to countless meetings, as a young lass, to listen to her parents speak out to protect their community and way of life from other mining operations. Now their water, quiet and property are threatened again and Alexa is following in their footsteps by joining her community to make sure that her children are able to grow up in the same viable, vibrant and socially diverse community that she was. Alexa manages SJRTA’s data-base.
Sitabai Betts – In 1984 my former husband and I moved to Ananda Village on the Ridge and over the past 30+ years have raised our 4 sons here. My educational background is in civil engineering, and prior to moving to California I worked specifically with traffic and highway design in Seattle, Washington. As a resident of Ananda Village I have worked in accounting, managed a personal and an Ananda business, and for the past 10 years have helped with Ananda’s overall property management of roads, grounds, and housing. I very much value our quiet rural lifestyle, surrounded by nature and good neighbors. I contributed a lot to promoting Measure Q that provided our local North San Juan Volunteer Fire Department with much needed funding, and have also been working with SJRTA board members on stopping the gold mine since 2013. We have so much beauty all around us here on the Ridge that I like to get out and enjoy it, so if you see a cyclist on Tyler Foote Road give a wave, it might be me!
Julie des Tombe – Bio coming soon
San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association
P.O. Box 421, North San Juan, CA 95960