Cultural and Historic Resources

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Overview

The management of cultural and historical resources has emerged as a significant consideration for all variety of developers, users of public lands, and owners of real property.  The statutes and regulations governing the subject are numerous and varied at both the state and federal levels.  Our attorneys practicing in this area are experienced, widely published and nationally recognized, which explains why our practice in this area of the law extends well beyond New Mexico's borders to other parts of the West and the nation.

Our practice includes representation of natural resources developers, railroads and others, including counsel, administrative appeals, and litigation services relating to: (1) the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and its all-important Section 106 process that is triggered by any ground-disturbing activities arising on federal or Indian lands or requiring some form of federal approval, permit or license; (2) the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and its requirements concerning the protection of Native American burial grounds and associated objects; (3) the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA); and (4) the range of other federal and state cultural and historical management statutes and Executive Orders governing historic properties, sacred sites, tribal consultations and related matters.

Attorneys

Experience

Our lawyers have been involved with cultural and historic resources issues since roughly 1984 in administrative and litigation proceedings and discussions with State Historic Preservation Officers, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Indian tribes and Pueblos, and other groups.  In the mid-1980s, we represented timber interests in litigation in federal court in New Mexico involving efforts to enjoin all timber sales in New Mexico and Arizona until the United States Forest Service had undertaken a comprehensive cultural resources inventory of all national Forest system lands.  More recently, the firm has been involved in development activities on federal public lands that present land use conflicts issues between the proposed development and cultural resource and sacred site preservation.

Representative Matters

  • Represented a major uranium mining company and a group of mineral interest owners in challenging a New Mexico agency's designation of over 700 square miles of the Grants uranium belt as a "traditional cultural property" at the request of five nominating tribes and pueblos.  Sustained a challenge to the designation in State District Court and currently defending against a pending appeal in the New Mexico Court of Appeals.  See Rayellen Resources, et al. v. NM Cultural Properties Review Committee, et al., NM Court of Appeals, No. 31,064.

  • Represented an exploration company in obtaining a Mining Act permit in the vicinity of areas asserted to be a sacred site and the locus of cultural resources.

  • Counsel to Peabody Natural Resources in litigation and settlement of issues involving an archeological site near a rail spur access road serving coal facilities.

  • Transactional and litigation counsel to the Ramirez family, owners of a tract within the boundaries of the Manzano Land Grant community believed to be the locus of a 17th century Spanish industrial mining complex, including successful resolution via state court settlement and entry into an archeological resources agreement, among other instruments.

  • Represented numerous clients in permitting, environmental compliance and general advice concerning Indian lands development, National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), and New Mexico Cultural Properties Act.