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Land fight resolved; sacred mountain returned to IE tribe

November 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The dust may be settling over a proposed mining site in the Inland Empire. It's between Temecula's southern border and the San Diego county line. There's a major multi-million-dollar settlement involved. Opponents of the Liberty Quarry Project had plenty to smile about Thursday.

Thursday, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians put an end to the contentious battle over the proposed open mine site, which would have extracted tons of aggregate material. The tribe bought the land from Granite Construction, paying $3 million for 345 acres.

"We had to look at something that was definitive and essentially make it an offer with Granite on the basis of what would be fair, what would be enough for them to disengage," said Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro.

The tribe will also pay an additional $17.3 million as part of a settlement agreement. A major part of the settlement includes a restriction preventing Granite from building a quarry in the area, encompassing 90 square miles.

The company said in a statement that it was pleased to have reached an equitable solution with the tribe.

The historic agreement closes a bitter chapter in Temecula history, which included a series of heated public hearings.

"Finally. No more hearings. We were there for days on end hearing the opponents and the proponents," said Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone.

But this past July the tribe began secretly negotiating with Granite to buy the land in order to preserve the site they consider sacred.

"The mountain is our people's place of creation for all Luiseno people," said Macarro.

For the past seven years the site has been referred to as the Liberty Quarry project but from now on the Pechanga Band of Indians want it know by its tribal name: the Pu'eska Mountain.


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