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A new gold rush pits money and jobs against California's environment

Section: Daily Dispatches

By Scott Wilson
Washington Post
Sunday, July 17, 2022

GRASS VALLEY, Calif. — Where the Sacramento Valley steepens into the Sierra Nevada, Susan Love found a home with big windows and pine-forest views. It was the house she shared happily with her husband before his death.

The surroundings, though, are changing.

A long-dormant gold mine within view of her front garden is showing signs of life. Once the second-highest-producing gold mine in the nation, the Idaho-Maryland Mine is again in the sights of prospectors, this time a Nevada-based company proposing to reopen it in this place born more than a century and a half ago in a rush of gold.

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There is still a lot of gold in these hills and a lot of money at stake. But across California, a strong environmental ethos and, in many historic places, an economic shift toward tourism are now sharply at odds with the resumption of gold mining, despite its promise of new jobs more than a century and a half after tens of thousands of migrants arrived to strike it rich in this state on the country’s edge.

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