Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
A Tussle Over Sacred Land In NM
Native Americans in northwest New Mexico and Arizona see Mount Taylor as a sacred place where they can still connect with ancestors. Local ranchers view their lands near the 11,300-foot peak as private property. The two sides are fighting in the courts over whether the 700-square-mile area surrounding the mountain—where private groups are seeking permits to mine for uranium on federal lands—should be considered a "traditional cultural property" under state law. The dispute, which the New Mexico Supreme Court is weighing after hearing arguments from both sides last month, is part of a growing series of scuffles among Native American groups and private interests over how much, if any, sway tribes should have over development of lands they don't own but consider part of their heritage. As such cases have become more common, the National Park Service, keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, is updating federal guidelines on what constitutes a traditional cultural property. It is consulting with tribes and soliciting comments through the end of October. The rules apply to federal lands, although some states, including New Mexico, have used them as a guide when designating culturally important sites within their jurisdiction. Separately, the U.S. Forest Service is reviewing laws in a bid to better protect land it manages that Native Americans consider sacred. A final report is in the works. The designated area around Mount Taylor is public land. But local landowners are concerned that under state rules, any development on adjacent private land that could damage the sacred site has to be reviewed by cultural authorities. Some also say their private land has been misidentified as public. "It ceases to be my private property," said Marron Lee Nelson, a fourth-generation cattle rancher...more