Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Judge reverses Mount Taylor designation

The designation of Mount Taylor as a “traditional cultural property” has been overturned by Fifth Judicial District Court Judge William Shoobridge. “The final order entered is reversed and remanded to the Cultural Properties Review Committee to designate Mount Taylor a Traditional Cultural Property,” Judge Shoobridge concluded in his opinion late last week. The judge heard the case in December as plaintiffs hoped to overturn a ruling by the CPRC that allowed nearly 700 square miles on Mount Taylor to have protection under the New Mexico Cultural Properties Act. Plaintiffs included private landowners on the mountain, several uranium mining companies, Public Lands Commissioner Patrick Lyons and the Cebolleta Land Grant. The defendants were the CPRC and the Pueblo of Acoma. It appears the plaintiffs attorney's argument “size does not matter,” convinced the judge. In December, Micahel Moffett, attorney for the petitioners, argued the Mount Taylor acreage was too large to qualify for TPC designation under the act. Shoobridge said, “The court finds that the sweeping designation of between 660 to 819 square miles of New Mexico raw land cannot reasonably be inspected and maintained by the CPRC as required by state law.” The judge also noted three other problem areas in his ruling: the property designation was “flexible and on-going,” resulting in not having integrity of location; errors in notifying interested parties, specifically mineral owners; and that the Cebolleta Land Grant should not be included as a contributing property...more

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