FROM THE ARCHIVE
BLM recommends mine rejection
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NOVEMBER 10, 2000

Citing significant and irreparable damage to land sacred to the Quechan Nation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Thursday recommended rejecting a gold mine proposed in California near the Arizona border.

The BLM issued its final environmental impact statement (EIS) on a 1,571-acre open-pit gold mine proposed by the Glamis Imperial Corporation. The company operates a mine several miles nearby and has been seeking to open another one for several years.

Earlier assessments of the mine indicated its effects on the environment could be mitigated and were permissible under federal law. But the final report analyzes four scenarios and recommends that the "no action" alternative be taken to deny the company's proposal.

Several circumstances contributed to the decision. In October of 1999, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation concluded that despite previous mining, the new mine would irreparably damage the area and significantly affect the tribe's cultural traditions.

"If implemented, the project would be so damaging to historic resources that the Quechan Tribe's ability to practice their sacred traditions. . . would be lost," said the Council, who recommended that the Department of Interior deny the proposal

In January of this year, the Department of Interior issued a legal opinion on the mine and its effect on the First Amendment freedom of religion rights of the tribe. Although the Interior didn't specify a course of action, it said the BLM has the authority to deny the mine, based on the Council's recommendation.

But opinions of the public, elected officials, and the tribe were also negative. Members and officials of the tribe in particular were concerned about the mine's impact on rock carvings, sacred trails, cleared circles, and the overall atmosphere of the area.

"Would an open-pit operation be allowed in Jerusalem, where shrines and sacred grounds of Islamic, Judaic, and Christian religions are located? Why should Native Americans face an institutional razing of their sacred grounds?" asked Pauline Owl and Mike Jackson, Sr., the tribe's president.

The BLM still have to make a final decision on the proposal. A 30-day public comment period will end on December 18, 2000.

The Interior in October withdrew 9,360 acres of land from new mining in order to protect archaeological and cultural resources sacred to the tribe.

Get the EIS:
Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for proposed Imperial Project, Imperial County California, by Glamis Imperial Corporation (BLM El Centro Field Office November 2000)

Relevant Links:
Glamis - www.glamis.com
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation - www.achp.gov

Related Stories:
Court upholds water rights (Enviro 06/20)
Court set to rule on water rights (Enviro 06/19)
Water rights on Supreme Court docket (Tribal Law 04/25)

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