California Valley Miwok Tribe Hosts Mountain Ranch Rd. Project Meeting

California Valley Miwok Tribe Hosts Mountain Ranch Rd. Project Meeting
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The California Valley Miwok Tribe – located at 10601 Escondido Place, Stockton, CA (As listed in the Federal Register of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, BIA/DOI), a federally recognized tribe eligible to receive and distribute services from the federal government – on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010, hosted a meeting regarding a project being proposed on Mountain Ranch Rd. located in Calaveras County. This was a meeting of discovery with questions and requests for documentation and information as to what stage the project is currently in and documentation on every step that has so far been undertaken. The tribes have just currently been made aware of this project and have never been consulted by any of the agencies involved except for a site visit previously attended on 09/23/2010, in which major discoveries were made. The tribes appreciate that all agencies involved are now trying to initiate the involvement of the tribes and the local Native American community whose major concerns are for the protection of this vast historical site including its previously discovered burials and the cessation of any future planned ground disturbance which if allowed would also affect the quality of life that the many local residents currently have.

The meeting began with opening prayer by Tribal Elder Mildred Burley, after which the speaking pipe was brought forth so that all attending could introduce themselves. After introductions Debra Grimes, Cultural Preservation Director for the California Valley Miwok Tribe initiated discussion on the project in question and spoke in great length about the desecration of the cultural site, the lack of communication and proper notification, of the lack of following mandated procedures and consultation with the representative area tribes and of the adverse impacts associated with a project such as this on the local citizens, of the tribes support for the local citizens whom know of and have always avoided impacting the site. She went on in great detail about the lack of a need for a project such as the one being proposed at this location citing documented facts of a greater need in different locations on this actual roadway where there has been previous accidents resulting in multiple deaths. Caltrans District 10 Sr. Environmental Planner Jacqueline Wait then explained the way the process has advanced on this project from the beginning to the point it is at today, also discussing all points of significance, previous area knowledge and of known existing matters. Much was lacking in Ms. Wait’s presentation, the Tribe’s Cultural Preservation Director suggested bringing in various experts as yet not involved to do a proper and more thorough site analysis. Caltrans then gave comment, after which an explanation of the intention of project was given by Mark Davis, (Engineer for Calaveras County on the proposed project).

The discussion then went in-depth between CVMT, Caltrans, Calaveras County personnel and the county’s hired archaeologist. Eventually all attendees were involved including, Jill Hupp Senior Environmental Planner from Federal Highways, Cynthia Sanchez from the Mountain Ranch Project Citizens Committee and tribal leaders and consultants. When all had their say, Ms. Wait Caltrans District 10 produced photo copies of certified mailings, stating that everyone attending had previously been notified of the project. But when she was asked to produce signed return receipts so it would be known where these mailings and notifications were sent or whom may have signed for them, she could produce no such evidence. Then the land owners of the Citizen’s Commitee and their representatives were given a chance to voice their concerns. They spoke of what was actually needed and what locations on the roadway were in immediate need of improvement and of the great working relationship that they have with the tribes, and thanked the tribes for giving them a forum in which they were allowed to voice their concerns. Ms. Debra Grimes then again expressed the need for all information on this project to date, so that the tribes would understand how the project had progressed and would be knowledgeable if and when initial consultation begins. After which an in depth discussion began that involved input from all attending regarding the process, agencies involved, contact information, tribal concerns, the need for confidentiality, and the concerns of the local residents, among other subjects. At the end of the meeting, expanding contacts, and fulfilling information requests that are currently lacking to all parties that will be involved was decided to be in the best interest of the tribes and the agencies so that all will be able to better work together in implementing the future cancellation or completion of the proposed project.

We would like to thank all agencies that sent representatives to attend this meeting, and to those representatives whom shared information and discussed the project and of how to interact better in the future, having better communication to exchange information and ideas. In this regard, we want to thank those whom attended listed below:

Cynthia Sanchez, Mountain Ranch Project Landowner’s (Citizen’s) Committee
Ron Pargett, Mountain Ranch Project Landowner’s (Citizen’s) Committee
Barb Siskin, Senior Archaeologist, Garcia and Assoc.
Melissa Pierce, Project Engineer
Mark Davis, Engineer, Calaveras County
Jacqueline Wait, Sr. Environmental Planner, Caltrans District 10
Jill Hupp, Sr. Environmental Planner, Caltrans (HQ)
Gloria Grimes, Chairperson, Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians
Debra Grimes, Cultural Preservation Director, CVMT/CBMI
Silvia Burley, Chairperson, California Valley Miwok Tribe
Anjelica Paulk, Vice Chairperson, California Valley Miwok Tribe
Rashel Reznor, Secretary/Treasurer, California Valley Miwok Tribe
Mildred Burley, Tribal Elder, California Valley Miwok Tribe
Tiger Paulk, Consultant, California Valley Miwok Tribe