Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association, Natural Resources Defense Council: Key Legislation Gives California Governor Opportunity to Protect Drinking Water and Sacred Sites From Controversial Dump

Sep 09, 2011, 14:46 ET from Southern California Tribal Chairman's Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- California Governor Jerry Brown is currently considering Senate Bill 833, legislation that would stop a proposed landfill from being built along a river, eliminate the risk of contaminating drinking water for communities, and prevent the permanent desecration of sites considered sacred by local Indian Tribes. A coalition of diverse groups including the Southern California Tribal Chairman's Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council urge Governor Brown to sign SB 833 into law.

Gregory Canyon is a pristine canyon in northern San Diego County along the banks of the San Luis Rey River. The eastern slope of the canyon is formed by Gregory Mountain, or Chokla to local tribes. It is the resting place of an important spiritual figure known as Takwic who collects the souls of the dead. At the base of the mountain and on the boundary of the proposed landfill site is Medicine Rock, a sacred site that has been used for centuries for puberty ceremonies, religious rituals, and healing. The pictographs are still visible to this day on its surface. These sites are sacred to thousands of the region's native tribal members. Putting a dump here would be akin to building a dump next to Jerusalem's Wailing Wall or St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

In addition to desecrating sacred sites, the landfill would be built very close to one of the last naturally flowing rivers in Southern California. The San Luis Rey River and its aquifers are the source of drinking water for thousands of local residents. Despite the landfill proponents' claim that their landfill liner is state-of-the-art, experts agree that eventually all liners leak. Future generations will wonder why we allowed a dump to be built next to a drinking water source.  As we have seen time and time again, including recently with the oil spill in the Gulf, accidents happen, and drinking water contamination is something that cannot be reversed – ever.

The canyon is also an unspoiled habitat for dozens of protected and endangered species, including the majestic golden eagle. On a quiet afternoon, you can see it soaring over the canyon and roosting on the mountaintop.

Proponents say that stopping this dump is bad for business, but they have known since this site was first proposed in the 1980s that it is sacred to local tribes and practically on the banks of a river. Part of being a civilized nation is being good stewards of the land and respecting the values of other cultures. We cannot let a short-term profit take precedence over the permanent desecration of sacred sites and contamination of drinking water.

If you value clean drinking water and respect what other cultures hold sacred, please contact Governor Jerry Brown at (916) 445-2841 and urge him to sign SB 833 and preserve Gregory Canyon now and forever.

SOURCE Southern California Tribal Chairman's Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council