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Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission joins fight against proposed Gilroy quarry

Hillside in Gilroy, California.

The Commission threw its support behind the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band by a unanimous vote last Thursday, calling the proposed mine a “critical human rights issue.”

Sargent Ranch Partners LLC is currently seeking county approval for a sand and gravel mine on a privately-owned plot of land near Gilroy. The planned construction site notably falls within Juristac, a sacred land area containing numerous ceremonial and cultural sites used by the Amah Mutsun ancestors for millennia.

Opponents of the mine say it will permanently destroy the impacted land and violate the rights of the Amah Mutsun to exercise freedom of religion and cultural expression. Indigenous organizers have led local protests and national advocacy since the county review process began four years ago.

Thursday’s Commission vote is a historic show of support. In an interview with the San Jose Spotlight, Commission Chairperson Bryan Franzen said he could not recall any other attempts to deny a county permit since the Commission’s founding in 2018. Local conservationist groups, like the Palo-Alto-based Green Foothills, have added that the mine could harm vulnerable animal populations, such as central coast mountain lions.

Later this month, the County will release a comprehensive environmental impact report and cultural ethnographic assessment for the project to further inform the permit approval process.