Formal protest submitted to the Bureau of Land Management on March 18
Tucson, Ariz. (March 28, 2023)—Earlier this month, on behalf of Archaeology Southwest, William H. Doelle (President & CEO) and John R. Welch (Director, Landscape and Site Preservation Program) filed a formal protest regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Proposed Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendment to the Socorro Field Office RMP and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed SunZia Southwest Transmission Project Right-of-Way Amendment (DOI-BLM-NM-0000-2021-001-RMP-EIS). The Tucson-based nonprofit has been formally opposing the SunZia route since 2009, through numerous filings, on evidence-based grounds.
Those grounds derive from Archaeology Southwest’s 33-year history of anthropological research and landscape conservation in the San Pedro Valley, as well as the organization’s history of working closely with local communities and affiliated Tribes to better understand and protect the significant and abundant heritage places there.
“The BLM has largely ignored not only the recommendations we have made based on our voluminous research, but also the well-documented wishes of Tribes regarding irreversible impacts to the cultural landscape that is the San Pedro Valley,” says Welch. “We have been clear: This valley should be avoided. The BLM’s failure to meaningfully address the massive and deleterious impact SunZia will have on Tribes whose histories and belongings are in that landscape or even on the heritage places themselves has made it necessary for us to file this protest.”
Archaeology Southwest’s filing focuses on the BLM’s inadequate attention to assessing impacts and avoidance and on the agency’s failure to complete meaningful consultation with the federally recognized Tribes who consider the San Pedro Valley to be part of their homelands. As a result, the FEIS is unacceptably incomplete, Welch and Doelle say, and BLM’s actions are not consistent with a host of federal regulations the agency is obligated to comply with, including essential provisions of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Joint Secretarial Order of November 15, 2021. The formal protest enumerates evidence Archaeology Southwest has provided in past filings, as well as likely violations of the relevant regulations.
“Quite simply, it would be wrong, harmful, and contrary to federal law and policy for BLM to proceed,” says Doelle.
Read the formal protest here.
About Archaeology Southwest
Founded in 1989, Archaeology Southwest is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, on the homelands of the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. We are privileged to work across the US Southwest and into northwestern Mexico on the Lands and Territories of many Indigenous Tribes and descendant communities.
We practice Preservation Archaeology, a holistic and conservation-based approach to exploring and protecting heritage places while also honoring the diverse values these places hold for people. We gather information, help make it accessible and understandable, share it with the public and decision-makers, advocate for landscape-scale protection, and co-steward heritage preserves with people who share interests in their conservation. We are committed to real and ongoing collaboration with Tribes in all areas of our work.
Learn more at archaeologysouthwest.org.
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For Immediate Release
March 28, 2023
John R. Welch, Ph.D.,
Banner image: San Pedro Valley, Bernard Siquieros