National Trust Applauds "Major Victory": New Mexico Supreme Court Rules to Reinstate Mt. Taylor's Cultural Property Status
Posted February 6, 2014 | Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-588-6141
The New Mexico Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, found that Mt. Taylor was properly designated a cultural property by the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee. Listing as a cultural property requires New Mexico agencies to consult with the State Historic Preservation Officer before allowing activity that may negatively impact the site. Mt. Taylor’s designation had been challenged by mining interests and others and was under review by the state Supreme Court. The National Trust participated in the litigation and presented oral argument as friend of the court in support of the tribes and the Cultural Properties Review Committee. The following is a statement from Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
“The National Trust is pleased by the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate Mt. Taylor’s cultural property status. We join our partners, the Pueblos of Acoma, Laguna and Zuni, the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation and others in celebrating this major victory in our joint effort to protect this sacred landscape. This ruling has several significant ramifications. Reinstatement of Mt. Taylor as a cultural property reaffirms the site’s importance as a historic resource, increases awareness of the state’s priceless cultural heritage, and ensures that mining or other proposed activities on Mt. Taylor will be scrutinized before any permit is issued. It also upholds the authority of the Cultural Properties Review Committee, and its important role in protecting sites of historic and cultural importance to all New Mexicans.
“While we are energized by this decision, we realize Mt. Taylor’s future is not yet secure. We will continue to work with federal, state, local and tribal partners to ensure ongoing vigilance regarding outstanding uranium mining claims that would impact Mt. Taylor."
BACKGROUND ON MT. TAYLOR
Mount Taylor in Grants, New Mexico is of vast natural and cultural beauty. With an elevation of 12,000 feet, it has been a pilgrimage site for as many as 30 Native American tribes. It provides water to surrounding communities, a spiritual and recreational experience to visitors and residents, and is a beloved landmark visible from 100 miles away. It also contains one of the richest known uranium reserves in the country. Today, the peak is threatened by two active uranium mining claims and unlimited future mining potential.
In recognition of the vast significance of Mt. Taylor, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has added it to its portfolio of National Treasures, places where it is making a deep, long-term organizational investment.