Sunday, November 15, 2009

2009 Endangered Historic Sites

What do a mountain, the Enola Gay's hangar, a Los Angeles hotel, a temple, and a stadium have in common?  They're all listed on this year's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Click here for this year's list.  One of the most interesting sites is Mount Taylor in Grants, New Mexico, about 50 miles from Acoma Sky City, an over 350-foot tall mesa that has been home to the Acoma people for over 1,000 years--itself a National Trust Historic Site.  Renewed interest in mining uranium ore has stirred heated debate about Mount Taylor's future.  The 1872 Mining Law makes mining there possible, without regard to site's cultural or natural resources.  Recent designation of the site as a Traditional Cultural Property by New Mexico may, however, provide some protection, to the extent that it protects not only the mountain and its slopes, but also nearby mesas and valleys.  Native American tribes in the area continue to press for control over development decisions affecting this land.  Whether they succeed in this effort will depend on how lawmakers balance their request against the rights of Mount Taylor's legal owners to use and enjoy their land. 

Will Cook, Charleston School of Law

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