June 10, 2010 (Campo) – The Campo Band of the Kumeyaay Nation’s general council has voted to rescind lease agreements and terminate the Campo Sanitary Landfill Project, ending a decade-long battle by neighboring community members seeking to halt the project.
“The resolution to terminate the Sanitary Landfill Project won approval for several reasons,” tribal chairwoman Monique La Chappa said in a prepared media statement. La Chappa indicated that a new generation of tribal members who are now eligible to vote expressed concerns over perceived long-term environmental risks. Other factors in the Council’s decision included “the reality of new economic development opportunities, including options such as Kumeyaay Wind II, with fewer potential environmental risks,” La Chappa said, “and a belief among members that the landfill project is no longer in the best interest of the tribe.”
Donna Tisdale, founder of Backcountry Against Dumps (www.backcountryagainstdumps.org) , a group organized to oppose the project, applauded the decision. “Our hats are off to the Campo tribal members who did the right thing and voted to terminate the Campo landfill,” she told East County Magazine. “This battle to stop the risky project has exceeded two very long decades and with over $40 million invested by private developers. The fact that it was finally overturned by an internal tribal vote is a very sweet victory for all landfill opponents.”
Tisdale observed that the tribe could suffer economic loss short-term as well as a backlash from the developer, BLT Enterprises, and from landfill supporters. “Our nonprofit group, Backcountry Against Dumps, stands ready to lend a hand to the tribe to deal with that backlash or any further efforts to approve this unneeded project,” Tisdale said.
A source advised ECM that tribal members opposed to the project had concerns over impacts to their water supply, impacts on wetlands and communities from wastehauling, and dissatisfaction with the developer’s responses to questions. Reportedly, a section of landfill liner passed around for members to examine tore before it made it around the room just from hands touching it. “This shocked them,” said the source, who asked not to be named. Changes to the design of the landfill and liner were also viewed as shortcuts to save money, the source added.
La Chappa indicated that the vote on the landfill is an “isolated event affecting a single business initiative” and does not reflect tribal members’ perception of all economic development activities.
The landfill was initially proposed as a means of providing economic development for tribal members on the Campo reservation, located in a remote area of East County where revenue-raising options available to tribes closer to urban areas were not feasible. Since then, the Campo Indians have built and operate the Golden Acorn Casino as well as the Kumeyaay Wind Farm project, and now hope to add a second wind generation facility.