Barona to join community in opposition to sand mining project

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Bobby “Walking Stick” Wallace, National Chief of the Longest Walk with the Barona Band of Mission Indians, announced last week that his tribe is stepping in to join the local community against a sand mining project in El Monte Valley, Lakeside. The Viejas Band is joining as well, along with other bands from afar that packed the room on Tuesday, Sept. 25 when the county held a public meeting to discuss the plan to dig on almost 500 acres of land for the next 19 years.

Bobby “Walking Stick” Wallace, National Chief of the Longest Walk with the Barona Band of Mission Indians, announced last week that his tribe is stepping in to join the local community against a sand mining project in El Monte Valley, Lakeside. The Viejas Band is joining as well, along with other bands from afar that packed the room on Tuesday, Sept. 25 when the county held a public meeting to discuss the plan to dig on almost 500 acres of land for the next 19 years.

The Kumeyaay believe the water and the land are sacred and this is why they joined all the other 11 nations at Standing Rock to protest the Dakota pipeline.

Kumeyaay tribe member Bobby Wallace protecting the land is a community issue.

“It’s only about the Mother Earth,” he said. “We must all stand strong on these types of issues, as one. This is everyone’s Lakeside. We all need to pull together.”

Wallace braved the rubber bullets at the Standing Rock and is bringing that kind of spirit with him in the El Monte sand mining conflict.

The valley is sacred Kumeyaay land, a place where the indigenous tribes have buried their ancestors and left behind archeological and historical artifacts when they were forcefully removed from the valley before the El Capitan Dam and Reservoir Lake was built in 1935.

The tribe split in two and was relocated in Barona and Viejas and had to start over on a bare land, settling new roots away from their ancestors’ bones excavated by the bulldozers to make room for the dam.

The people of the Hokan stock have lived in these areas for more than 10,000 years before the European invasion.

Now, the Tribes of the Turtle Island are rising again to speak up for their silent ancestors and their displaced children against another invasion of a similar kind – more machinery to dig into the burial sites and the treasured vestiges of a civilization that refuses to be leveled up.

The project is linked to troves of controversy and accusations of conflict of interest involving the County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission Michael Beck, Executive Director of the Lakeside River Park Conservancy Robin Rierdan, along with Bill Adams, the president of the sand mining company renamed as El Monte Nature Preserve to cover up its real intentions.

In 1997, Adams’ company was called El Capitan Golf Course, LLC and leased the land in the valley from the Helix Water District to build a golf course. After the first year, the County of San Diego sued the golf course company for failing to obtain proper permit before mining in the valley illegally.

The craters are still there after 20 years, not restored and unmitigated.

After almost two decades of lawsuits between the county, the sand mining company, Helix Water District and Michael Beck, HWD and EMNP settled in court with HWD agreeing to sell the whole land to EMP for $9 millions.

Adams, the President of the EMNP, claimed in a public meeting with the county that the sand was appraised for $2 billion.

The next steps will be for the public to comment on the subsequent Environmental Impact Report just published by the county before the deadline on Oct. 29. Then it would go back to the county for revision and from there would come to the Lakeside Planning Committee for discussions, but this entity only has an advisory role. San Diego Planning Commission would then take a vote on it, led by chairman Beck, appointed by Supervisor Jacob.

Beck was a partner with the sand mining company for almost two decades until recently.

He was initially hired for the aftermath restoration. The county supervisors would then have the final vote.

The last community meeting with the county about this project organized a couple of years ago was very heated, with people holding signs and shouting against the sand mining project.

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