FARMINGTON, N.M. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) will travel to the Navajo Nation on Friday, October 2, and Saturday, October 3, to tour the massive tribal farm south of Farmington, visit Navajo uranium legacy sites, and join the local community at this year's Shiprock Northern Navajo Nation Fair and Parade.
On Friday morning, Senator Heinrich will meet with the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) staff near Farmington. The farm has nearly 77,000 acres under irrigation and produces Navajo Pride brand potatoes, corn, beans, alfalfa, and small grains. The company employs nearly 200 full-time employees and an additional 200 seasonal workers during the peak harvest season. Earlier this year, Senator Heinrich requested the Senate Appropriations Committee fund the expansion of the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project.
Later on Friday morning, Senator Heinrich will visit the Navajo Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation (AML) and Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) office for a briefing on continued reclamation efforts on abandoned uranium mines. AML and UMTRA staff aims to protect, restore, and reclaim abandoned mines in the region. Following the briefing, Senator Heinrich will tour the Shiprock Disposal Site, a former uranium mill. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) now maintains the site and monitors potential impacts to the environment. Nearly 4 million tons of uranium were extracted from the Navajo Nation from 1944-1986. Many abandoned mines exist today and pose a serious health threat.
Shiprock area farmers are still struggling with the impacts of the August Gold King Mine spill. Senator Heinrich will discuss legislation he plans to introduce to reform the nation's mining laws, which date back to 1872, to require hardrock mining companies to pay a royalty for the minerals they take from public lands. The royalty--similar to that paid by oil and gas and coal companies--would help pay for abandoned mine reclamation and cleanup.
Last week, Senator Heinrich joined U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in introducing the Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act of 2015, a bill to help the Navajo Nation and communities in northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado recover from the Gold King Mine spill. The bill would ensure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to work with affected communities by requiring the agency to compensate those who were impacted.
On Saturday morning, Senator Heinrich will join the local community and walk in the annual Shiprock Northern Navajo Nation Fair And Parade. The event is the oldest and most traditional of the Navajo fairs and is held each fall where the Navajo people of the Four Corners come to celebrate the year's harvest. The theme of the fair this year is, "Unifying Tradition and Modern Ways," and takes place from October 1-4, 2015.
The information below is for planning purposes only. Media must RSVP to email@example.com to attend.
Farmington Friday, October 2
WHAT: Navajo Agricultural Product Industry (NAPI) Tour
WHEN: 9:30 to 11 a.m. MT
WHERE: 10086 N.M. Hwy. 371, Farmington, N.M. 87401
Shiprock - Friday, October 2
WHAT: Navajo Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation and Uranium Mill Tailing Remedial Action Briefings, and Shiprock Uranium Mill Tailing Pile Tour
WHEN: 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. MT
WHERE: 1 Uranium Blvd., Shiprock, N.M. 87420
WHAT: Reclaimed Navajo Uranium Mine Tour
WHEN: 1:30 to 3 p.m. MT
Shiprock - Saturday, October 3
WHAT: Shiprock Northern Navajo Nation Fair And Parade
WHEN: 7 a.m. MT
WHERE: Location details for the event are available at www.northernnavajofair.org