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7:20am — Mount Taylor Meeting Set Saturday

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State panel to reconsider temporary listing as a Traditional Cultural Property.

The state Cultural Properties Review Committee will hold its regularly scheduled bimonthly meeting in Grants on Saturday and will reconsider its decision in February to temporarily designate Mount Taylor as a Traditional Cultural Property, according to the Gallup Independent.

There will be a public input session where the committee can hear again from the five Indian tribes — Navajo, Hopi, Acoma, Laguna and Zuni — that originally asked to have sacred sites on the mountain's 422,840 acres protected from development, according to the Independent and the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The committee also will hear from Cibola County citizens and civic leaders who objected to the emergency designation in February, the Independent said.

The state Attorney General's Office determined in May that the public was not properly notified, as required under the state's Open Meetings Act, about the Feb. 22 meeting when the committee approved the designation, The Associated Press reported at the time.

The hearing, at 1 p.m. in the Grants Community Center, is expected to draw an overflow crowd because of the controversy the decision generated, The New Mexican reported.

State Sen. David Ulibarri, D-Grants, who is also the Cibola County manager, said the designation was "another ploy to stop uranium mining," said The New Mexican.

"This issue is dividing our community, and I don't like that," Ulibarri told the paper. "The decision was premature. They didn't think this out."

Theresa Pasqual, director of the Acoma Pueblo Historic Preservation Office, told The New Mexican that the tribes have been concerned over the years of unimpeded development on Mount Taylor.

"The tribes don't want to shut access to the mountain," said Pasqual. "They know many of our neighbors love to utilize the mountain, just as we do. They don't want to shut out development near the mountain because we understand the need for economic development. But they want to be consulted when projects are proposed."

Mount Taylor is sacred to many tribes and pueblos along the Rio Grande and is one of the four sacred mountains of the Navajo Nation, which has banned uranium mining, The New Mexican said.

If the Cultural Properties Review Committee decides to approve the temporary designation, the five tribes who proposed the designation and other interested citizens would have 365 days to continue research into the site's value as a Traditional Cultural Property, then ask for a permanent designation, according to the Independent.

If no new information is brought forward warranting a permanent listing after a year, the temporary listing would lapse, and Mount Taylor could not be listed in the register for at least five years, the Independent said. 

 

 

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