- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A long-running plan to build a landfill in rural northern San Diego County has been scrapped, and a large chunk of the land has been sold to a Native American tribe that opposed the project.

The deal announced Thursday puts an end to a 25-year fight over the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill that included several lawsuits and two countywide ballot measures, the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper reported (https://bit.ly/2fBeeqG ).

The city of Oceanside, environmental groups and the Pala Band of Mission Indians had all tried to block the project. But it moved forward until a few years ago when financing problems forced the property owner into bankruptcy.

The new owner, GCL LLC, announced it has sold roughly 700 acres of the 1,700 acre site to the Pala tribe for $13 million, effectively killing the landfill plan.

The agreement includes a pledge that the tribe won’t oppose residential and commercial development on the rest of the property, said Todd Mikles, a principal of GCL.

Pala officials confirmed that promise to the newspaper. They said the land purchase ensures the protection of several sites that are sacred to the tribe and steeped in cultural significance. Tribe officials said the project was akin to building a trash dump around the walls of a cathedral.

“This outcome, with the tribe owning one of the most sacred sites we have - I didn’t’ see it ending like this and I couldn’t be happier,” said Shasta Gaughen, the tribe’s environmental director and historic preservation officer.

Landfill opponents like environmental attorney Everett DeLano also said they were thrilled by the news.

“I’ve been fighting this thing for so many years,” he told the newspaper. “It’s amazing it’s finally over. It’s wonderful. Good job Pala.”

The proposed dump had drawn opposition since initial plans were unveiled in the early 1990s, calling for the project to be built on a sprawling piece of land that straddles state Route 76 roughly three miles east of Interstate 15, not far from the San Luis Rey River. The Pala reservation lies just to the east.

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, https://www.utsandiego.com


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