Tuesday, October 20, 2015

So this is happening: Oak Flat, Arizona

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Oak Flat Campground is a few miles east of the town of Superior, Arizona.  It is a national park that is also sacred ground for the San Carlos Apaches.  I've written about it several times (see here).There were protests and caravans and walks to bring light to this issue this summer.  However, money talks and this land sits on top of a resource that could spell the destruction of the entire area.

Here is some background info:  
"Resolution Copper Mining, a subsidiary of British-Australian mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, has sought ownership of the land for a decade, lobbying Congress unsuccessfully to enact special legislation since 2005.
But in December, the legislation was quietly passed into law as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has long championed the deal, said the land exchange would “maintain the strength of the most technologically advanced military in the world” since copper is the second-most-utilized mineral by the Department of Defense.
As part of the deal, Resolution Copper will swap roughly 7.8 square miles of land scattered across Arizona for roughly 3.8 square miles of Tonto National Forest, which includes Oak Flat. The new legislation will open up Oak Flat for copper mining.
One of the most controversial components of Resolution Copper’s project centers on how the company plans to extract the copper. Eschewing a more traditional method of mining as too expensive, the company announced it will use a cheaper method called block cave mining, which will result in a crater two miles wide and up to 1,000 feet deep, destroying the surface of the land. Block cave mining will also generate nearly a cubic mile of mine waste, which the company proposes to leave on a parcel of Forest Service land, just outside the town of Superior."
Clearly, from these pictures, Resolution Copper is moving ahead.  

Rep. Raul Grijalva introduced the Save Oak Flat bill in June, 2015,which would repeal the Oak Flat portion from the Defense Appropriation bill, but it seems to have not left the Natural Resources committee.  The Apache Stronghold website has an action page and I urge you to go there and sign some of the petitions.  Oak Flat was added this summer to the list of most endangered historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  
This place belongs to all of us.  All of us.  Do what you can to support the San Carlos people in protecting their sacred spaces.  Share this story.  Sign the petitions.  Call your congressman and senators.  Let them know that you are watching them and their actions and you will hold them accountable.
shirt by Urban Native Era

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke.

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