South Mountain is a part of our Phoenix Mountain Preserve, one of the natural wonders that make the Valley of the Sun so special. The preserve also includes other well-known valley landmarks such as Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak. No one is permitted to mess with these preserve areas – except ADOT! If ADOT says preserve land must be destroyed to build one of their freeways, they can take whatever part of the land they want for their freeway!
South Mountain Park, which encompasses almost all of South Mountain, is the largest city park in the world. It is a wilderness park that encompasses nearly 17,000 acres. It is home to over 300 species of plants as well as numerous animal populations. In spite of the unanimous opposition of the South Mountain Park Board of Trustees, ADOT plans to blast right through this mountain and its park, forever scarring the land and changing the native habitat.
South Mountain is also sacred land to the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC). Sacred land is one type of argument that ADOT cannot override, but the fact that the sacred land is not on the reservation makes it possible for ADOT to pursue it anyway. For their Environment Impact Statement (EIS), they must figure out a way around the sacred land issue. So they are currently in “negotiations” with the GRIC to attempt to “mitigate” the “problem.” We wonder what all this means. Does ADOT plan to bribe the GRIC into allowing them to blast through sacred land? Sacred land is just that, and it should be a non-negotiable stop sign for ADOT’s plans to put the South Mountain Freeway through South Mountain.
Unfortunately, ADOT sees nothing special about any mountain. They just see mountains as standing in the way of freeways, and South Mountain stands in the way of the South Mountain Freeway. So ADOT plans to blast right through South Mountain to make the South Mountain Freeway. They consider the destruction of South Mountain to be an alternative for building this freeway. This is an outrageous and irresponsible action that would permanently disfigure South Mountain, destroying the integrity of the park, the mountain, and its ecosystem. It is not a viable alternative for this freeway. In fact, there are no viable alternatives for the South Mountain Freeway. The destruction of South Mountain must be stopped! ADOT and MAG need to rethink their Valley Transportation Plan and find a different approach!