Discover / Mount Taylor
Save a National Treasure
REGION: West
LOCATION:
Cibola County, NM
TYPE: Landscape
Mount Taylor sits atop one of the richest reserves of uranium ore in the U.S. | Photo: National Trust
Mount Taylor sits atop one of the richest reserves of uranium ore in the U.S. | Photo: National Trust
Opportunity
Protect one of the most sacred peaks in the American Southwest from unlimited uranium mining.

Overview

Mount Taylor sits atop one of the richest known reserves of uranium ore in the country. Current high demand for the ore has resulted in a renewed interest in mining the uranium deposits beneath Mount Taylor on federal, state, and private lands, as well as on other public and private lands in the area. The New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division continues to receive proposals for exploration, mining, and milling operations for Mount Taylor. Much of the area is governed by the 1872 Mining Law, which permits mining regardless of its impact on cultural or natural resources. In addition to threats posed to the mountain itself, uranium mining may contaminate or impair the primary water source for Acoma Sky City, the oldest inhabited community in the United States.

National Significance

Located in the southwestern corner of New Mexico's San Mateo Mountains, Mount Taylor, with an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet, is a startlingly beautiful, sacred place. Visible from up to 100 miles away, the mountain has been a pilgrimage site for as many as 30 Native American tribes, with special significance for the Acoma people. Mount Taylor is rooted in Acoma's history and traditions, and is closely aligned with the tribe's cultural identity.

Campaign Goals

  • Mitigate the effects of uranium mining.
  • Improve U.S. Forest Service management of traditional cultural properties and other large cultural landscapes.
  • Support the state designation and protection of Mt. Taylor as a traditional cultural property.

Ways To Help

Donate to our campaign to save Mount Taylor.

Tell us why Mount Taylor matters to you.

Partners

  • Acoma Pueblo
  • Defenders of New Mexico’s Heritage
Posted on June 02, 2015

- Written by Amy Cole, Project Manager

The Cibola National Forest has recently released a draft report that addresses the identification and evaluation of historic properties and the possible effects on those properties from the proposed Roca Honda uranium mine.  The report includes a presentation of both tribal and archaological points of view and interesting concepts, including the presence of a hydrological "area of potential effects", where a large number of historic springs of significance to tribes could be impacted by the dewatering of the mine facility.  The National Trust participated in an in-person meeting to discuss the report's findings and will also submit comments for the Forest's consideration as they move forward with the Roca Honda environmental analysis.

Please check back often for additional updates on Mount Taylor. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure. 

Posted on November 26, 2014

- Written by Amy Cole, Project Manager

Following a quiet year, the plans to develop the Roca Honda mine have taken a turn.  At a meeting hosted by Forest Service on November 20th, the project proponents presented a new idea for how and where they will transport water after it is removed from the proposed mine.  This matter as been a key concern of neighboring tribes and this new alternative was in development for about a year.  Because both a new route and pipeline are being considered, the Forest Service must analyze this alternative under the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.  This will involve additional inventory, consultation, and additional research and analysis by the Forest Service which could take several years.

Please check back often for additional updates on Mount Taylor. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure. 

Posted on August 14, 2014

Written by Will Cook, Mt. Taylor Team Member

Following the New Mexico Supreme Court's unanimous decision that reinstated Mt. Taylor's designation as a registered cultural property, the district court judge has now vacated the original order that set the designation aside.  The district court's order is signficant in that it offically brings to a close the contentious litigation over the designation's validity, and re-affirms the correctness of the decision by the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee to place Mt. Taylor on the state's official list of cultural properties on September 14, 2009. 

Please check back often for additional updates on Mount Taylor. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure. 

Posted on February 07, 2014

Yesterday, in a unanimous decision, the New Mexico Supreme Court decided that Mt. Taylor should remain designated as a Cultural Property under New Mexico state law. The reinstatement of the designation is important because it means that state departments must consult with the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Officer before taking an action that could adversely affect the Mt. Taylor Cultural Property. The decision also reaffirms the important role the state plays in identifying and preserving New Mexico’s cultural heritage.

For 17 months, the Justices debated whether the Cultural Properties Review Committee had properly designated about 400,000 acres (including Mt. Taylor) on the basis of its cultural and historic significance to the Pueblos of Acoma, Laguna and Zuni, the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation and other tribes.

The National Trust participated in the litigation and presented oral argument as friend of the court in support of the tribes and the Cultural Properties Review Committee. One of our arguments, which addressed whether a cultural property could be rejected as “too large,” was adopted by the court in their decision. The Justices agreed with us, stating that, “[w]e see no reason . . . why our state authorities are prohibited from listing a property simply because it is too large” and cited examples of other large areas similarly designated, such as Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks.

National Trust President Stephanie Meeks commented on the ruling: “The National Trust is pleased by the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate Mt. Taylor’s cultural property status. We join our partners, the Pueblos of Acoma, Laguna and Zuni, the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation and others in celebrating this major victory in our joint effort to protect this sacred landscape.” 

As we savor this victory, we will continue to work with federal, state, local and tribal partners to keep a close eye on uranium mining claims that would impact Mt. Taylor. Please donate today to support our ongoing work at this National Treasure.

 

Posted on February 06, 2013

Written by Amy Cole, Project Manager

The US Forest Service continues to engage with the National Trust and several other entities, including pueblo and tribal representatives, around plans for the pending La Jara Mesa and Roca Honda uranium mining projects at Mt. Taylor.  During meetings held on February 6, the Forest Service updated the participating organizations about various research that is underway to better understand the impact the projects could have on cultural resources, including geomorphology studies investigating the age of landforms near the project to assess whether additional cultural resource sites could be located beneath the surface.  The Forest Service also announced that it would supplement the La Jara Mesa Draft Environmental Impact Statement with more materials about cultural resources which is good news for advocates.

Please check back often for additional updates on Mount Taylor. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure. 

Posted on November 06, 2012

Written by Amy Cole, Project Manager

On October 24 in Grants, NM, the US Forest Service held meetings for both the pending La Jara Mesa and Roca Honda uranium projects at Mt. Taylor. During the meeting, the Forest Service updated the participating organizations, including the State Historic Preservation Office, tribal and pueblo representatives, county commissioners, and the National Trust, on the status of the two projects and took feedback about cultural resource concerns stemming from the project proposals.  

This continues to be a dyamic process that considers how the Mt. Taylor traditional cultural property will be impacted by uranium mining and we anticipate additional opportunities for input and review of important documents, including archaeological and ethnographic information about Mt. Taylor, in the coming weeks.

Please check back often for additional updates on Mount Taylor. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on September 26, 2012

Written by Amy Cole, Project Manager

On September 24, National Trust Associate General Counsel William Cook presented the National Trust’s oral arguments before the New Mexico Supreme Court in the pending appeal about the inclusion of the Mount Taylor Traditional Cultural Property on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties. The courtroom was standing-room only, indicating the very high level of public interest in the oral argument. The justices have now taken the matter under advisement and will issue a decision in upcoming months. 

Please check back often for additional updates on Mount Taylor. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on August 07, 2012

Written by Amy Cole, Project Manager

Last week, the National Trust submitted comments on proposed regulations that will set forth the requirements and procedures for listing properties of historical, archaeological, scientific, architectural, or other cultural significance in the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties, which Mount Taylor is already a part of.

Overall, we are supportive of the draft regulations, which offer a transparent and clear path to state register designation, ultimately making it easier to care for places important to New Mexico’s history and culture.

Our comments, which suggest several minor technical improvements to what was proposed, will be considered by the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee when they act to adopt a final version of the regulations, likely on August 10.

Please check back often for additional updates on Mount Taylor. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on July 19, 2012

Written by Amy Cole, Project Manager

I’m Amy Cole, the National Trust's project manager for Mount Taylor. I’ll be providing you regular updates about our work to minimize the effects of mining on this sacred landscape in Northern New Mexico, which sits atop one of the richest known reserves of uranium ore in the country.

Just this week, we provided comments to the United States Forest Service about the proposed La Jara Mesa uranium mining project. The Forest Service will take those comments – which state our concerns about the negative effects the project will have on Mount Taylor and its irreplaceable cultural resources – into account when they prepare a final environmental impact statement later this year.

Also happening this week is a hearing on proposed regulations that will set forth the requirements and procedures for listing properties of historical, archaeological, scientific, architectural, or other cultural significance in the State Register of Cultural Properties. Mt. Taylor is included on this register, and the National Trust intends to comment on the proposed regulations.

Please check back often for additional updates on Mount Taylor. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

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Mac Watson, Santa Fe, NM on June 09, 2012
I remember the first and most contentious hearing we held on the nomination of Mt. Taylor to the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties. A non-Indian stated angrily: “We took it away from them and now they want it back!” Nearly three years later with the listing of Mt. Taylor headed to the New Mexico Supreme Court, I recall that angry voice — and hope for a just outcome.
Estevan Rael-Ga’lvez, Washington, DC on June 09, 2012
Although known today as Mt. Taylor, named in 1849 for the 12th president, it has many names, each much more meaningful and born of the memory and wisdom of those people who have known it since time immemorial. I remember the first time I stood in its shadow, quietly listening to hundreds of voices rising, each providing testimony to why the sovereignty of this mountain mattered so profoundly. Embedded in this testimony, the people told of origins and consciousness, of beauty and balance, of mining and its effects, and of lessons and legacies. That day, in the voices of individuals and communities whose origins are distinct, they all spoke in a collective, pointing not only to the past, but to a future that required this mountain to continue breathing.
Theresa Pasqual, Acoma, NM on June 09, 2012
I grew up always knowing Mt. Taylor. My home is located in the valley of Mt. Taylor in the village of McCarty’s at Acoma. It was the place of my childhood, the place where we took family picnics, played in the streams, and picked pinon nuts in the fall. It was also a learning place where my father taught me the names of its mesas, the ridges, springs, and its cultural resources — places important to Acoma and our cultural beliefs. It matters to me because of Acoma’s cultural and religious ties to the mountain; without it we as a people would cease to exist. Secondly, the mountain provides natural resources, including water, that our community and others surrounding the mountain need to be sustainable. Finally, and more personally, I have grown up on that mountain. I’ve walked its paths, hiked its canyons, gathered its gifts, prayed there, cried there, rejoiced there. The mountain that awaited me when I returned from living on the East Coast. The mountain begs you to listen. I’ve learned that. It embraces you and says, “Tell me your story and I’ll tell you mine.” I look for it often when I’m on the road, knowing home is not far away. “Beautiful” seems like a word not big enough to describe it.

Campaign Overview

Threat:
Inappropriate Development

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