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October 2, 2023

Environmental report on proposing mining operation at Sargent Ranch expected soon

An environmental impact report for a proposed mining operation south of Gilroy that faces opposition from a Native American tribe is expected to be released mid-November.

Rob Eastwood, principal planner for the County of Santa Clara, said county officials are targeting a mid-month release for the Sargent Quarry draft EIR, but a specific date has not yet been set.

The Sargent Ranch Management Company is seeking a 30-year permit for Sargent Quarry, a 317-acre sand and gravel mine located four miles south of Gilroy and west of Highway 101. Sargent Ranch in total is roughly 6,200 acres and is the southernmost property in Santa Clara County with small portions in Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.

San Diego-based Debt Acquisition Company of America purchased the majority of the land in 2013 after previous owner Pierce’s Sargent Ranch LLC filed for bankruptcy.

Freeman Associates LLC of Palo Alto, which represents Sargent Ranch Management Company, submitted the mining application in 2015 on behalf of the more than 100 owners of the 6,400-acre ranch.

The multi-phased project, which the developer says could create up to 20 full-time jobs, is meant to provide sand and gravel aggregate for contractors and public agencies in Santa Clara, San Benito and Monterey counties. The site is estimated to contain 40 million tons of sand and gravel aggregate.

The proposal lies in the midst of land sacred to the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. Known as Juristac, the land was home to Mutsun ancestors who performed ceremonies there for thousands of years.

According to the Amah Mutsun, despite a reclamation plan by the owner, the land could never be restored to its natural state following the three-decade operation of the mine.

“When you look at our other ceremonial sites and our hunting, fishing and gathering places, the vast majority of these places have been lost to development,” Valentin Lopez, the chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of the Costanoan/Ohlone Indians, stated on the tribe’s website opposing the project, “Juristac is one of the very last remaining undisturbed areas.”

On Sept. 8, hundreds joined the Amah Mutsun as they walked five miles from Mission San Juan Bautista to the eastern edge of Sargent Ranch to show opposition to the project.

The draft EIR will look at the potential environmental impacts of the project and identify mitigation measures and alternatives. Once the 30-day public review period ends, public comments will be included in the final report.

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Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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