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Home Working with Section 106 ACHP Case Digest Summer 2005 Arizona: Construction of a Communications Tower and Transmitter, Mount Graham
Arizona: Construction of a Communications Tower and Transmitter, Mount Graham
Agency: U.S. Forest Service
In 1988, the Arizona-Idaho Conservation Act of 1988 permitted the construction of three international observatories and support facilities on Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona.
The University of Arizona has constructed two observatories at the top of the mountain, with a third observatory to be completed next year. To support the observatories, the university plans to build a new communications system at the complex that uses a microwave tower and transmitter.
Mount Graham is a Traditional Cultural Property eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its importance and continued use by the Western Apaches. It was once part of the San Carlos Apache Reservation but was taken from the tribe in 1872 through an executive order.
At this mountain, known to the Western Apaches as Dzil Nchaa Si An, the tribes believe that mountain spirits known as Gaahn reside and provide spiritual guidance, health, and direction. They also believe that, among other powers, during the Sunrise Ceremony the Gaahn provide young Apache women with health, wisdom, and a spiritual connection to guide them throughout their adult lives.
The tribes are concerned with the impact of the construction and use of the observatory complex on their religious and cultural practices.
In 2004, the U.S. Forest Service determined that the universitys planned tower and transmitter are subject to the Section 106 review process, and initiated consultation with the ACHP, Arizona State Historic Preservation Officer, University of Arizona, San Carlos Apache Indian Nation, White Mountain Apache Indian Nation, and Apache Survival Coalition.
Forest Service is working with the consulting parties to prepare a Historic Properties
Management Plan and a Memorandum of Agreement to address the effects of the tower
and transmitter, while enabling the Congressionally permitted observatory complex
Staff contact: Stephen