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with Section 106 Section
106 in Action Archive
of Prominent Section 106 Cases New Mexico and Arizona: Development
of Fence Lake Mine
and Arizona: Development of Fence Lake Mine
of Land Management
Criteria for ACHP Involvement:
- The project will affect hundreds of archeological properties, as well as several traditional cultural properties of significance to the Zuni, Hopi, Acoma, and Navajo Tribes, including the Zuni Salt Lake Sanctuary Zone (Criterion 1).
- The Zuni Tribe requested ACHP’s involvement in resolving its concerns with the consultation process and the adequacy of identification efforts under an existing Programmatic Agreement (Criterion 4).
In August 2001, the Pueblo of Zuni Tribal Historic Preservation Officer
contacted ACHP to request that the 1993 Programmatic Agreement
(PA) for the proposed Fence Lake Project be amended. The Pueblo signed
the 1993 agreement as a concurring party, but has since become concerned
with its implementation and the adequacy of the PA to address the protection
of archeological resources and properties of traditional cultural and
At ACHPs urging, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as
lead Federal agency, proposed a September 2001 meeting of the parties
to the PA to discuss the Pueblos concerns and consider mitigation
measures for the effects of the project on the Zuni Salt Lake Sanctuary
Zone traditional cultural property (TCP). Instead, Tribal Chairman Malcom
Bowekaty asked to meet separately with BLM and ACHP to discuss
the Pueblos concerns.
In November 2001, ACHP member Katherine Slick and ACHP staff member
Carol Gleichman traveled to tribal headquarters to meet with Governor
Bowekaty and the Tribal ACHP. At this meeting, ACHP agreed to
support the Pueblos request for an amendment to the PA to clarify
that the Pueblos participation in that agreement does not indicate
its approval of the project. ACHP also indicated support for the
Pueblos desire to have tribal elders visit sites before archeological
data recovery is conducted, provided that could be done in a reasonable
Later that month, BLM wrote to Governor Bowekaty offering to amend the
PA to insert a statement of the Pueblos position on the project
and its opposition to project impacts on human remains. The draft amendment
is currently being reviewed by all of the signatories. BLM also proposed
a meeting among consulting parties, to be held in February 2002. Meanwhile,
the Pueblo of Zuni has requested ACHP support of its request to BLM
to allow the Pueblo to conduct its own TCP evaluation of the mines
disturbance areas. ACHP staff is currently drafting a response to this
The Fence Lake Project is a proposed surface coal mine covering approximately
16,800 acres, and a 44-mile railroad corridor that will be used to transport
coal to an existing generating station near St. Johns, Arizona. Between
the mine and railroad corridor, approximately 8,432 acres of land will
be disturbed. The Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power
District (SRP) has applied to BLM (Soccoro Area Office) and the Office
of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) for approvals to construct
and operate the mine and railroad corridor.
To develop a PA for the project, BLM, serving as lead agency for Section
106 review, consulted with OSM, SRP, ACHP, the State Historic Preservation
Offices (SHPOs) of Arizona and New Mexico, the New Mexico Mining and Mineral
Division, and the Zuni, Hopi, Acoma, and Navajo Tribes. The PA was executed
in 1993, establishing procedures for the identification of historic properties
and development of a comprehensive treatment plan and data recovery plans
for historic properties affected by the project.
Archeological surveys and a TCP study were also completed in 1993. Hundreds
of archeological sites were identified, as well as several TCPs. The Zuni
Salt Lake was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic
Places by BLM and New Mexico SHPO, and the Keeper of the National Register
later extended the boundaries of this property to include a radius of
approximately 10 miles around the lake, referred to as the Sanctuary Zone.
This 182,000-acre TCP extends into the southwestern portion of the proposed
mine. With the identification of this new sanctuary zone, BLM must develop
a treatment plan for the mitigation of effects to TCPs.
This project has been highly controversial. Despite its concurrence in
the PA in 1993, the Pueblo of Zuni has actively opposed the construction
of the Fence Lake Mine because of concerns that the mining and transportation
of coal in the vicinity of the Zuni Salt Lake will adversely impact the
water table and water quality.
A final decision on approval of the mines plan of operation has
been held up for several years by appeals filed by the Pueblo of Zuni
and others. In response to some of the issues that have been raised, the
Department of Interior has informed the Pueblo that it will defer a decision
on the mine while the tribe and SRP engage in settlement negotiations.
These discussions, which are private and confidential, may result in agreements
regarding the treatment of historic properties.
Staff contact: Carol
May 6, 2003
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