The Oak Flat campground area that will be destroyed by a proposed copper mine has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, based in part on the site’s spiritual ties to Western Apache tribes.
But the listing of the site, about 100 miles north of Tucson, has prompted outrage from Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who insists it has no special significance to Native Americans.
Gosar backed legislation to privatize Oak Flat and surrounding lands, paving the way for the mine. He recently condemned the “bogus” designation from the National Park Service. The NPS deemed the “Chi’chil Bildagoteel” district, which includes Oak Flat, to be a “traditional cultural property,” following a nomination from the U.S. Forest Service in consultation with the San Carlos Apache tribe.
Reps. Gosar and Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., repeatedly asked the National Park Service to withdraw the nomination.