About us

Mailing address Friends of Banner Mountain, PO Box 833, Nevada City, CA 95959

Our History

Early in March of 1984 Betty Simpson (with her late husband Joe), and Bob Szabo began the task of organizing the neighbors on Banner Mountain to prevent the reopening of the Banner and the Lava Cap Mines by Franco-Nevada, Inc, a Canadian corporation. It became apparent the Board of Supervisors would most likely grant a zoning change from RA-5 to RA-5-ME and a use permit to allow mining when by a 3 to 2 vote they authorized a contract for a Draft EIR. The newly elected BMHA Board decided they needed legal help, and started a serious fund raising campaign. The first Board members were Betty (President), Bob (VP), Jim Barrick (Treasurer), Frank Bartlett, Joan Lancaster, Mary McDaniel, and Austin Sawvell.

By May 1985 the BOS had approved the rezoning and issued a use permit with many of the important mitigation measures deleted despite the numerous appeals to deny the request. The Board realized that decision put a lot of other parts of the county at risk and decided to form a umbrella coalition named REED (Reliable Economic Environmental Development) under the chairmanship of Bob Szabo and Ralph Young to solicit support from people around the county. However, on the advice of their attorney, the late Michael Remy, in June they filed a suit against the BOS and Franco-Nevada to rescind the rezoning. While the suit never went to trial, REED was able to get a referendum on the ballot to overturn the BOS decision for the November election. BMHA and all its supporters won the election by a mere 8 votes. By mutual agreement, the suit was not dropped, but held in abeyance in the event an applicant tried again. This was a major victory for the people against a moneyed organization and some unconcerned politicians. For more details, ask us for a reproduction of some of the old news letters.

In the following years, considerable effort went into working with the BOS and the planning organization to reduce the adverse environmental aspects of the Mineral Management Element that was to be incorporated into the County General Plan. This element defined the policy and standards for any future mining operation. Mining is of great historical value in this community, but with much of the land converted to residential zoning it is important that many safeguards be built in to statutes. Ironically, the Lava Cap Mine is now a EPA Super Fund site due to the huge quantity of arsenic released into Clipper Creek.Other important activities and issues taken up by BMHA involved traffic safety on Banner Lava Cap Rd, careful scrutiny of the various subdivisions that were planned and developed on Banner. Another long term priority is fire safety. Working with the responsible fire departments, they were able to advise members of fire safe methods and evacuation information. Eventually, the Fire Safe Council agreed to periodic chipping of brush in the area.

In 1995, BMHA was able to get agreement from a propane supplier and a septic service to offer discounts to members. Members who took advantage of these discounts enjoyed a considerable amount savings.
The membership and neighbors have benefited greatly during past years due to the effort and dedication of all of the past Directors, Officers and volunteers.