Rebuttal to U of V Astronomy Dept. Fact Sheet

Reply to the erroneous and misleading statements in the website of the University of Virginia astronomy department “Fact Sheet” [1] regarding the Mt. Graham telescope project.


The Mount Graham Coalition
P.O. Box 15451, Phoenix, AZ 85060

The University of Virginia (UVa) is considering joining the controversial Mt. Graham telescope project.  A website “Fact Sheet” by the UVa astronomy department contains many factually incorrect or misleading statements.  A reply is needed to set the record straight. [2]

  Mt. Graham, known to the Western Apaches as Dzil Nchaa Si’an since time immemorial, is a Western Apache sacred site and unique ecological treasure.  Unilaterally removed from theireservation (1871 Treaty) by order of President Grant in 1873, Dzil Nchaa Si’an is an essential part of the Western Apaches’ homeland and religious life. Mt. Graham has been officially recognized as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in the U.S. as a Western Apache traditional cultural property. [3]  

“For reasons that come straight from the core of the Apache’s rich and venerable cul­ture, the Apache believe that Mount Graham is essential for maintaining their trad­itional way of life and the intricate rhythms of their roundly sacred universe.  The tele­scopes desecrate Mount Graham because they violate and impugn the mountain’s “life” and all associated forms of life that have existed for centuries on the mountain.” [4]  

Mt. Graham’s summit is an ancient relict, virgin, spruce-fir forest, similar to those found at the latitude of the Hudson Bay or the Yukon.  The mountain’s base is surrounded by the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.  To biologists it is known as a “sky island.” Containing more life zones than any other solitary U.S. mountain, eighteen plants and animals unique to the world have evolved on its stormy, damp, cold, icy summit forest since glacial recession.  This is the only place where the endangered Mt. Graham Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis) lives-- down in some years to a few hundred -- or less -- individuals.  

To construct a gigantic telescope complex on that most sacred and ecologically irreplaceable summit, University of Arizona (UA) lobbyists went to Congress (1988). In the final hours of the 1988 session, without hearings or debate [5] -- they slipped in a radical, unprecedented “rider.”  This stealth bill was attached, ironically, to a bill called the Arizona-Idaho Conservation Act (AICA). [6]   UA lawyers have subsequently spent millions in court, arguing that this “rider” exempts them from U.S. religious, environmental, and cultural heritage protection laws!  

1. UVa astronomy department:

“Other organizations who have joined the LBT consortium have been deluged by requests…designed to sabotage the addition of new members…Much of the information they spread is false.”  

Reply: Our facts are supported with explicit references and citations to authority.  The astronomers, instead, make numerous unverifiable assertions and claims.  

UVa should know that any institution of higher learning should expect to be “deluged by requests” if that institution attempts to align itself with a consortium that would attempt to short-circuit and buy their way around the environmental, cultural heritage and religious protection laws that protect the people of this nation.  

2. UVa astronomy department: “The Congressional act in question did not exempt the project from all environmental laws…  

Reply:  That is not true. The relevant section of the Congressional Act in question, AICA, reads:  

“Subject to the terms and conditions of…the Biological Opinion, the requirements of section 7 of the Endangered Species Act shall be deemed satisfied…” and… “the requirements of section 102(2) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 shall be deemed to have been satisfied.”  

Any person even remotely familiar with reading Congressional legislation knows “deemed satisfied” means that the legislation has exempted the developer from any of the “terms and conditions” of those federal environmental laws! Those laws include the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). [7]  

UA lawyer David Todd, in Federal District Court, March 26, 1990, in Tucson, Arizona argued that the project was exempt from environmental law:  

“Congress felt this project was significant enough to merit exemption from applicable environmental statutes.  Those laws include the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.” [8]  

Judge Reinhardt to the UA lawyer, Dec. 13, 1990:  

"And your position is basically that what Congress was saying is we want you to build the three telescopes, build those three without regard to any laws, we’ve made the decision, everything else is taken care of.”  

UA reply:  

“That’s correct your Honor…Delay the other four, they’re subject to normal environmental laws…The amendment preserves NEPA and the Endangered Species Act processes only for the remaining four scopes.” [9]  

Judge Alfredo Marquez to the UA lawyer, March 26, 1990:  

“If the project “is having the effect of making the species totally extinct…you are saying Congress has said to go ahead with this project?”  

UA reply:  

If it was going to kill every squirrel…[nothing] could be done about it.” [10]  

The UA astronomers’ rider essentially underwrites the same position regarding the Western Apaches’ culture, heritage and religion.  

3. UVa astronomers:

“The project is still ‘subject to any subsequent Biological Opinions issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife.’”  

Reply: That statement is not true.  UA lawyers argued exactly the opposite to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals-- namely, that no subsequent Biological Opinions or squirrel studies could be allowed under the UA “rider:”  

“The first three Mount Graham telescopes are permanently exempt from the national environmental statutes, a UA attorney maintained in a federal appeals court yesterday…Therefore, the first phase of the multimillion-dollar international astronomy project cannot be delayed by additional studies of the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel, Todd [UA lawyer] told a three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.” [11]  

“The judges asked more than a dozen questions about the wording of the conservation act and the Biological Opinion.  They queried the attorneys about the Fish and Wildlife committee’s Aug. 6 red squirrel update, which recommended a new Biological Opinion.”  

 “What you’re saying is that Congress, through the act, said, ‘Go ahead and build those three telescopes without these environmental laws?’ Judge Reinhardt said to the UA lawyer at one point. The UA lawyer agreed.” [12]  

The UA lawyer stated:   

“Congress felt this project was significant enough to merit exemption from applicable environmental statutes…The whole purpose [of the 1988 Act] was to bring this process to an end [and allowing a new squirrel study] makes no sense and reduces what Congress did to nullity.” [13]  


Further documentation of the untruthfulness of the UVa astronomers claim that the project was “subject to any subsequent Biological Opinions” was reaffirmed Aug. 23, 1990.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Justice Department, refused to allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to release a new Biological Opinion on Mount Graham, which USFWS said was needed.  

“…due to the requirements of the Arizona-Idaho Conservation Act of 1988 [the UA “rider”]…Congress provided that the consultation requirements of section 7 of the Endan­gered Species Act are deemed satisfied as to the construction of the three telescopes.  Therefore, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Justice have concluded that the Conservation Act does not provide for additional consultation [to allow the desperately needed new Endangered Species Act study] with the Fish and Wild­­­life Service at this time regarding the impact of the three telescopes on the squirrel.” [14]  

USDA’s stated reason above was that UA’s Mt. Graham telescope “rider” “deemed satisfied” the construction of all three telescopes—again disproving the UVa astronomers’ erroneous claim that “deemed satisfied” meant the project was subject to environmental law.  


The USFWS’ request for a new Biological Opinion as required by Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act was the result of the June 26, 1990 Congressional Hearing investigating the fraud involved in the issuance of the July 14, 1988 Biological Opinion. The Director of the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, testified that the UA “rider’s” Biological Opinion approving construction was improper and “based on other than biological information.” [15]  

“First, the alternative of locating three telescopes on Emerald Peak was not supported by the FWS biologists preparing the Biological Opinion…They have since stated to us that, in their opinion, constructing the facility on Emerald Peak is not biologically supportable and will likely increase the threat to the squirrel, a species on the brink of extinction.  

“Second, the FWS Regional Director informed us that he had no additional biological studies to clearly support the Emerald Peak development alternative…Lastly, we do not believe that it is appropriate for an FWS official [Michael Spear, Regional Director, USFWS, Albuquerque, NM] to consider nonbiological information in reaching an opinion that could jeopardize a species’ existence…We believed now as we did then that biological decisions should be based on biological information.  Weighing the risk of a species’ extinction with the benefits of a project is a policy decision and should be left to a high-level Endangered Species Committee…” [16]  

The Arizona Republic headline described Mount Graham’s corrupted, professionally indefensible Biological Opinion on which Congress allowed the UA “rider” as “fudged.” [17]  

The point here is, the Endangered Species Act does not allow agency bureaucrats to unilaterally take the place of the special, presidential, cabinet-level procedures of the Endangered Species Act as they did on Mt. Graham.  Nicknamed the “God Squad” it is convened by the President and made up of the Secretaries of Defense, Interior, Agriculture and the governor of the state involved.  Only they can have administrative control over the life or death of a species.  If that committee decides, after holding public hearings, and open, due deliberation, that economic development is more important than a species’ survival, only then may it decide to allow the project to go forward.   

During the Congressional investigation with the GAO, Michael Spear, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, testified to the GAO and Congress that he decided it was proper for him to unilaterally approve the telescopes at the critical Emerald Peak squirrel habitat because it was for telescopes and not a campground.  He said he made the conclusion that if it had been a campground he would not have approved it.  

4. UVa astronomers:

“…the U.S. Forest Service, in consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service, spent three years and much effort in studying the environmental and Native American cultural issues on Mount Graham.  This was done in compliance with environmental…law.”  

Reply:  It is not true that it was “done in compliance with environmental…law.” The reason UA was compelled to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying to sneak in a “rider” without public hearings in the final hours of the 1988 Congress was because of the failure of those three years of agency studies to even minimally comply with U.S. environmental and cultural laws. The various ways the “three years and much effort” of Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service studies failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Historic Management Act (NHPA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) shall be pointed out below.  


No agency – neither the U.S. Forest Service, nor the UA – did any cultural studies.  This has been repeatedly pointed out by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (see next section below). While the Forest Service did cursory surveys on the ground for archaeological artifacts, (commonly called “stones and bones” surveys), they deliberately avoided any cultural, ethnographic, and ethnobotanical studies or consultations with the Western Apache tribes, namely the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache tribes.  This is required by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the federal trust responsibility law of the Forest Service to the Apaches. This is evidenced by the egregious fact that the word “Apache” does not appear in the body of either the Draft or the Final Environmental Impact Statements (DEIS, FEIS) of the telescope project!  


The Forest Service utterly failed in their duty to respond to the following Jan. 19, 1987 testimony submitted in their Draft Environmental Impact Statement:  

“Mt. Graham is considered to be a sacred mountain to members of the San Carlos Apache tribe.  Mt. Graham is still being used for certain religious rites by these people.  The proposed development is viewed as potentially damaging to the Apache religion and the ceremonies that take place there.  

The Forest Service’s contact with the San Carlos Tribal Council did not adequately identify these impacts.  The astrophysical development can be viewed as a violation of their religious freedom rights as Native Americans by the San Carlos Apaches affected by it.  These impacts should be addressed.” [18]  

Robert Tippeconnic, the Coronado National Forest Supervisor, later admitted that he knew all along that Mt. Graham was sacred to the Apache people!  Tippeconnic supervised the publication of the project’s Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements and signed the Record of Decision for the telescope complex. He made that admission to Phoenix New Times reporter John Dougherty.  This interview occurred after the Forest Service and UA had succeeded in federal court in having the Apache Survival Coalition lawsuit dismissed for “waiting too long” to sue for enforcement of the NHPA and Apache rights:  

“Tippeconnic, who now works in Washington, D.C., as the U.S. Forest Service’s national liaison with Indian tribes, says he knew many traditional Apaches, considered Mount Graham to be sacred, but would be reluctant to describe their feelings to non-Indians. Yet during planning, Tippeconnic’s office made no effort to solicit the views of San Carlos Apaches, beyond writing a letter to the tribal council to announce the proposed development.” [19]  


In 1990, the GAO testimony to Congress (see above) demonstrated the failure of the Fish and Wildlife Service to comply with the requirements and protections of the Endangered Species Act. The Draft Biological Opinion (BO) prepared for the USFS on August 31, 1987 would not have authorized a telescope complex within the high quality, vulnerable, Emerald Peak squirrel habitat -- for the following reasons, including:  

“…impacts on Emerald Peak could not be reduced below jeopardy with reasonable and prudent alternatives.”  

“The 1987 Draft Biological Opinion stated: “Emerald Peak, regardless of access, is an extremely important red squirrel habitat.  Placement of a facility here would require clearing of spruce-fir habitats and would adversely affect middens both directly and indirectly through windthrow, solar drying and other effects. Destruction of habitat on Emerald Peak for siting an observatory would have greater detrimental impacts than the proposed siting on High Peak.  Furthermore, those impacts on Emerald Peak could not be reduced below jeopardy with reasonable and prudent alternatives.” [20]  

The USFWS scientific study (Biological Opinion -- BO) opposing telescopes on Emerald Peak was unacceptable to UA’s astronomers.  UA demanded a Biological Opinion placing the project on Emerald Peak, regardless of the endangered species harms it would inflict. The reason they wanted Emerald Peak was that it was broad, flat, easily deforested and capable of being converted into a city of telescopes.  What UA failed to recognize, was that its flat terrain made it very undesirable visibility for astronomy.  Whether out of pride or arrogance, they simply ignored the careful National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) studies of 1984 [21] and 1987 [22] which pointed out that such flat topography was undesirable for world-class astronomy. UA’s own belated 1992 [23] studies described East Emerald Peak’s visibility as “unsatisfactory” to “marginal,” and Emerald Peak as being even worse due to its bad topography!  

Political intimidation placed upon the USFWS personnel in Phoenix and Albuquerque by Congressional and UA staff was severe and unrelenting during the 2-3 year planning process.  It culminated with UA officials meeting FWS officials in May 1988. Two months later a procedurally and biologically flawed Biological Opinion allowing a highly destructive Emerald Peak telescope project was issued.  

This explains the “fraudulent” aspect of the Emerald Peak Biological Opinion (BO) since the USFWS draft BO of Aug. 31, 1987 had declared astrophysical development at Emerald Peak would result in a “jeopardy” Biological Opinion, that is, an irreconcilable risk of extinction for the species.  

Five months after the May 1988 meeting, UA’s precedent-setting “rider” incorporating the “fudged,” or fraudulent Emerald Peak Biological Opinion was unsuspectingly relied upon by Congress. UA lobbyists sneaked it into their special rider legislation in the final hours of the legislative session while the USFWS stood aside effectively gagged and bound by UA’s political pressure thuggery.  


Under this climate of agency duress by congressional staff, the 1986 and 1988 Mount Graham Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements were written. The NHPA and ESA studies failed to meet even the most rudimentary requirements of those laws. UA was keenly aware of this. They knew they would have to work outside the law, that is, circumvent existing U.S. law.  

These USFS and USFWS inadequacies included:  

(1)   a range of meaningful alternatives as is required by NEPA and ESA,  

(1)   deeply flawed failure to comply with the religious and cultural protection provisions of the National Historic Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Until 2001 the USFS has stalled (for some 14 years) and failed to meet the requirements of NHPA.  These should have been completed along with the Environmental Impact Statement studies and before any chainsaws or bulldozers had arrived.  

(1)   the provisions of the National Forest Management Act requiring the protection of irreplaceable ecosystems such as the very small, vulnerable Hudsonian forest “cradle of evolution” on the summit.  

(1)   the fraudulent Emerald Peak Biological Opinion.  


The failure of the USFS to comply with NEPA requirements were stated in a letter from the U.S. Interior Department to the U.S. Forest Service. [24]  

“The major deficiency is the failure to adequately address practicable alternatives that may be available on other mountains  

“The Mt. Graham area is a nationally significant desert “sky island” ecosystem with unique wildlife resources and associated public uses and economies…  

“NEPA requires that the proposed astrophysical project be analyzed with all other reasonable alternatives within and outside the jurisdiction of the lead agency, and therefore the DEIS needs to be corrected to include all reasonable sites on Mt. Graham and other mountains  

The DEIS does not include potentially reasonable alternatives that would allow the use of other sites on Mt. Graham and, more importantly, other mountains with lesser wildlife values…Other sites are not beyond the scope of this document since it does not uniformly represent all appropriate land uses and therefore does not satisfy the responsibilities of a land allocation document.  Again, if this DEIS is to address land use allocation responsibilities it needs to represent all appropriate land uses and if the document is representing the specific preferred alternative and the intent of a single use as the title also indicates, the DEIS needs to examine all reasonable alternatives on and off Mt. Graham  

Appropriate information on potential astrophysical sites (Lynds and Goad, 1984) should be thoroughly evaluated in the DEIS  

The proposed astrophysical development would commit the Mt. Graham red squirrel to an increased risk of extinction.  This is inconsistent with NEPA responsibilities when less damaging, reasonable alternatives may exist on other locations on Mt. Graham or on other mountains  

“The DEIS does not adequately address all land uses in regard to land allocation and associated alternatives analysis, and of further concern, the DEIS does not provide adequate analysis of reasonable alternatives that may occur on other mountains.  The Department recommends that these major deficiencies be corrected prior to proceeding to ensure that a unique sky island biological resource is not committed to selection as the preferred alternative when less damaging reasonable alternatives may be available that could provide for the astrophysical needs and avoid detrimental impacts to the unique habitats on Mt. Graham.  

“Failure to incorporate all reasonable alternatives in the DEIS, including those that may occur on other mountains, would not be in compliance with the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the NEPA as needed for analysis of alternatives [40CFS 1502.14 (a-c)].  If these major issues are not addressed in the FEIS, the preferred alternative could constitute a major unresolved resource conflict of national significance and of sufficient magnitude that we may consider recommending referral to CEQ under 40 CFR 1504 of these regulations.”  

It was clear to UA that for their project to go forward with hopelessly insufficient, inadequate, and legally corrupted studies, this nation’s historic, landmark cultural and environmental laws (NHPA, NEPA, ESA, NFMA) would have to be thrust aside in Congress.  


Three times Apache Medicinepeople and elders sued the Forest Service for failing to comply in good faith with the NHPA.  Twice, the courts ruled the Apaches should have sued sooner, and dismissed their cases, but without making a decision on the merits of their claims to enforce the NHPA. [25]  

A third NHPA enforcement suit by the Mt. Graham Coalition and Apache cultural groups is currently in the U.S. court of Appeals.  At issue is the Forest Service’s failure to comply with the NHPA section 106 pre-planning consultation requirements requiring the Aug. 1999 approval of a new 23-mile long, 25,000-volt telescope powerline permit.  

5. UVa astronomers:

“This was done in compliance with…historical preservation law.”  

Reply: That statement is not true. In addition to the facts already presented refuting that misleading claim, UA’s own lawyers repeatedly argued that they were exempt from U.S. historical preservation law (National Historical Preservation Act-NHPA). In fact, that is the primary legal issue that is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Mt. Graham Coalition, et al. V. McGee, et al. At issue is the legality of the August 1999 USFS approval of the underground 25,000-volt, 23-mile powerline construction and operation.  In this case, the coalition is enforcing the mandatory requirements of the NHPA which were expressly avoided by the UA and the Forest Service who claimed that the NHPA was “not applicable.”  

Furthermore, the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has repeatedly pointed out to the U.S. Forest Service their failure to comply with NHPA, particularly in regard to the Large Binocular Telescope:  

“There is no evidence that the Forest Service has addressed the potential that Mt. Graham is a traditional cultural property, eligible for inclusion in the National Register in considering the new telescope site.” [26]  

In 1998 and in 2001 the Advisory Council again pointed out the continuing failure of the Coronado National Forest to comply with the NHPA on Mt. Graham:  

“In a letter to our Executive Director, dated Nov. 1, 1996, you assured us that in accordance with Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act the Coronado was ‘currently planning, in conjunction with the University of Arizona, to study the place of Mt. Graham in Apache Culture.’  Two years later we see no evidence that such a study has been completed or even initiated by the Forest Service.” [27]  

6. UVa astronomers:

“We suspect that this act [UA’s Mt. Graham “rider”] of Congress was neither the first nor the last of its kind…” “they [Natural Resources Defense Council] list thirteen public laws…enacted under the 104th Congress (1995-1996), some with multiple provisions, which except, exclude or excuse certain activities from the various requirements of preexisting environmental law.”  

Reply: UVa astronomers are declaring that since there were at least 13 public laws exempting projects from U.S. environmental and cultural protection laws during the anti-environmental Gingrich Congress in the mid 1990’s, this somehow justifies UVa from complying with those laws. UVa astronomers would be saying here that since various logging, mining, power, petrochemical companies, and other polluters and developers circumvented our Nation’s environmental and cultural protection laws, its O.K. for UVa to do it too! This rationalization by UVa’s astronomers that two wrongs make a right brings shame and dishonor to the students, faculty, administration and alumni of UVa.  

7. UVa astronomers:

“The cited study [NOAO study rejecting astronomy sites on Mt. Graham] was carried out on the basis of topographic maps alone.”  

Reply: That is not true.  In fact, the selection criteria for the NOAO/AURA (National Optical Astronomy Observatories/Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy) study considered a number of criteria: A. The Cartographic Base, B. The Geographic Limits, C. Infrared Sky Brightness, D. City lights and atmospheric pollution (various light-polluted near-urban areas were excluded), E. Land Jurisdiction and Physical Access, F.  Large-Scale Topographic Setting, G. Local Site Topography, and H. Incompleteness of Enumeration. [28]    

Both the 1984 Lynds and Goad study and the 1987 Merrill and Forbes study [29] were financed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) [30] under NOAO funding.   The peer reviewed Lynds and Goad 1984 study evaluated 56 continental U.S. sites and found 37 of those sites superior to Mt. Graham. UA’s in-house, studies were not peer reviewed, nor were they published at an independent source. [31]  

Mt. Graham was abandoned by NOAO/AURA for other places more suitable for a large telescope in 1987 (Mauna Kea, Chile).  For example, the Merrill/Forbes 1987 NOAO study showed Mauna Kea superior to Mt. Graham in eleven out of twelve parameters.  Most importantly, it delineated: (1) the lower percentage of nights suitable for astronomy on Mt. Graham (due to its summer monsoon and winter snowstorm-plagued weather), and (2) underscored Mt. Graham’s poorer “seeing” or visibility.  

8. UVa astronomers:

“The top-ranked site in Nevada is one to which no one has paid any further attention in the ensuing twelve years.”  

Reply:  The top-ranked site, Mt. Wheeler, became a National Park in 1986, well after Lynds’ study was completed. How could anyone expect “further attention” to it. There is no call for this sophomoric attempt to discredit NOAO’s peer-reviewed, published study.  

Not until nine years after Lynds’ NOAO study, and six years after Merrill’s NOAO study -- and five years after UA disastrously lobbied Congress for a “marginal” to “unsatisfactory” site on Mt. Graham -- did UA finally come around to completing their site selection studies.  They discovered that both the 1988 UA “rider’s” exempt-from-law Emerald Peak site, as well as UA’s illegal “Pearl Harbor Day” Dec. 7, 1993 clear-cut site (on East Emerald Peak) were gravely flawed sites in regard to their visibility (“seeing”). The UA site selection process ignored what the NOAO/AURA studies had previously pointed out regarding the importance of topography in computing astrophysical visibility or “seeing.” UA’s Steward Observatory  July 1992, [32] October 1992, [33] 1993, [34] and 1994 [35] studies conceded UA’s disastrous failure to consider Mt. Graham’s irrevocably flawed topographic problems.  

Of some six sites the 1994 Cromwell/UA study considered on Mt. Graham for their LBT, UA now belatedly admitted their horrendous blunder.  UA, it turned out, had selected and lobbied Congress for the worst site (Emerald Peak) in their 1988 UA under-the-table “rider”.   

UA also studied high peak, where NOAO did their comparison studies with Mauna Kea.  UA described High Peak as about half way between East Emerald Peak and Emerald Peak.  East Emerald Peak “seeing” was in the “marginal” or “unacceptable” category (according to which of UA’s 1992 Woolf and Woolf-Strittmatter studies.  Those studies also showed the Emerald Peak site UA lobbied Congress for in 1988 as even worse than “unacceptable.”  

UA’s Cromwell study noted that when the wind came from the north at High Peak (which it seldom did), it produced laminar flow and excellent “seeing” or visibility due to the steep contour of the mountain at that point. This reaffirmed the siting blunder UA made in ignoring the NOAO studies -- which pointed to the importance of topography in site selection.  


On a scale of “one” to “eight” with “one” having the poorest “seeing” (visibility) and “eight” the best, UA studies [36] found they had disastrously lobbied Congress for a “one” site. In an unlawful attempt to move from a worst possible “one” site to a still admittedly disastrous “two” ranked site, they undertook the at dawn, covert clear-cut operation of East Emerald Peak. The U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals both ruled that UA’s covert deforestation of East Emerald Peak violated NEPA and ESA.  It did this by sprawling the observatory far outside the “cluster” concept of the 1988 rider written by UA’s own lawyers.  

The reason for UA’s covert action was to immediately cut down all of the trees in one day before Native American or environmental lawyers could find out about it, much less have time to seek an injunction to protect that sacred Apache peak and the fragile, irreplaceable old-growth boreal forest ecosystem. As mentioned, this action violated the provisions of the very “rider” legislation UA lobbyists had written. Despite UA’s multiple appeals in federal courts, UA was found in violation repeatedly in those courts in July 1994, August 1994, April 1995 and July 1995.  

Next, UA put their lobbyists back to work.  In the final moments of the 1996 Congress, they once again slipped through another exemption rider without hearings or public testimony, circumventing the cultural, environmental and Native American religious protection laws of this country.  

To enable UA to make space at the last minute for inserting their exemption rider into the appropriation bill, the Arizona delegation had a provision deleted from the Omnibus Appropriations Bill.  It would have provided the Indian Health Service with funding for an HIV/AIDS study for Indians. [37]   Now UVa would not only be part of desecrating a Native American sacred place.  They would also deprive Native Americans of HIV/AIDS medical care.  So much for the willful conduct of the universities and astronomers associated with this notorious project.  They would operate at the expense of others – even though openings at non-destructive, world-class telescope sites come on line worldwide with regularity.  In the past fourteen years since the notorious anti-Indian, anti-environmental 1988 rider was sneaked through Congress, ten (TEN) world-class, 8-meter or larger telescopes have been constructed, installed and seen first light.  Even after 14 years of begging and pleading for partners worldwide, UA has been unable to fully subscribe collaborators for their environmental and cultural outrage.  UA is now groveling for partnerships with UVa and U. of Minnesota.   

9. UVa astronomers:

UVa astronomers refute the claim that “Every other university” has rejected Mt. Graham and points to OSU and Notre Dame participation.    

Reply: UVa astronomers are creating another “straw man” argument.  At the time of that Mt. Graham Coalition quotation in 1993-94 every U.S. university had either abandoned their plans to participate in Mt. Graham or rejected the project outright. Ohio State, after quitting the project in 1991 and facing a million-dollar penalty to the consortium, later rejoined and recovered their million dollar jeopardy. Notre Dame’s complicity was not unexpected since the Vatican already had, without hesitation, erected a 1.8-meter telescope on the Apache sacred mountain in 1991-92.   The Vatican did this despite having received many letters of protest from the San Carlos tribal council and Apache cultural leaders -- as well as citizens worldwide.   

The Vatican also approved the filing of courtroom affidavits (Apache Survival Coalition vs. USA/USFS) by two Jesuit priests against the traditional Apache people. They declared the mountain not sacred. [38]    

Father George Coyne, Director of the Vatican Observatory [39] described the Apache and environmental people opposed to their telescope, as “…a religiosity to which I cannot subscribe and which must be suppressed with all the force that we can muster.”  


What UVa astronomers neglect to tell their website readers is that Mt. Graham, as a telescope site, was rejected and abandoned by the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) in 1987.  NOAO/AURA had proposed to build the “National New Technology Telescope” consisting of four 8-meter mirrors on Mt. Graham. But they abandoned Mt. Graham after completion of their 1984 and 1987 studies.  These studies showed the clear superiority of Chile and Hawaii. AURA is made up of the leading astronomy universities in the western hemisphere including UC Oakland, Chicago, Cal Tech, Colorado, Harvard, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, MIT, Michigan, New York Stony Brook, Penn State, Princeton, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin-Madison, Yale and others.   

Other institutions also specifically rejecting Mt. Graham included Harvard/Smithsonian Institution in 1991, [40] U. of Toronto in 1994, Michigan State in 1994, [41] U. of Pittsburgh in 1994, U. of Texas, in late 80’s, U. of Chicago in late 80’s, and Georgia State in 1995.  Mt. Graham’s cultural, environmental and scientific liabilities were responsible for those rejections, -- not funding, as has been claimed by project proponents.  

For example, the City Council of Pittsburgh passed a resolution citing: “environmental problems and the religious and cultural value of the mountain to the San Carlos Apache” and this project tarnishes the image of the Pittsburgh community…” [42]  

The University of Pittsburgh Administration newsletter, April 14, 1994, stated that “The site in South America…was clearly better than anywhere in the continental U.S…The astronomy department considered such factors as weather statistics and “seeing” statistics...”  

Michigan State, on rejecting participation on Mt. Graham on March 17, 1994 stated: “…the Mount Graham project has stirred controversy over environmental and Native American issues…We have made our decision on what we believe to be in the overall best interests, both financial and academic of Michigan State University.”  


The University of Florida, after being courted for some ten years by UA, last year opted for the 10.4-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands. The LBT, after 15 years of evasion of U.S. environmental and Native American cultural protection laws, continuous UA mirror lab delays, breakdowns, fabrication problems, telescope siting blunders, illegal mountaintop site clear-cutting, and lawsuit delays, still has financial partner vacancies.  

Universities regularly join partnerships with world-class telescopes. The problem universities have is finding the funding needed.  UA has been frantically and desperately looking for partners since 1986.  In 1988 UA’s lobbyists told Congress they would lose their Italian and German partners if Congress did not hastily pass legislation short-circuiting the environmental and Native American cultural reviews needed to legally complete the project.  

If a university has the funding, viewing time and partnerships will become available at world-class telescopes worldwide. With $10 million in funds now available, UVa is positioned to pursue many options.  

In the 15 years since UA has been begging and pleading for partners to invest in their environmental and Native American holocaust, TEN 8-meter or larger world-class telescopes have been fully financed, constructed, installed, and have seen first light:  

(1)   Keck I, 10-meter, 1990, Hawaii;

(2)   Keck II, 10-meters, 1996, Hawaii;

(3)   Hobby-Eberly, 9.2-meters, 1999, Texas;

(4)   Subaru 8.3-meters, 1999, Hawaii;

(5)   Very Large Telescope, Antu, 8.2-meters, 1998, Chile;

(6)   Very Large Telescope, Keuyen, 8.2-meters, 1999, Chile;

(7)   Very Large Telescope, Melipai, 8.2-meters, 2000, Chile;

(8)   Very Large Telescope, Yepun, 8.2-meters, 2000, Chile;

(9)   Gemini North, 8.1-meters, 2000, Hawaii;

­(10) Gemini South, 8.1-meters, 2000, Chile.  

In April 1998 the $85 million, 10.4-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias partnership was offered. It is now fully subscribed by the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, the Instituto de Astrofisica of the Canary Is., and the University of Florida.  It is scheduled for first light in 2003.  

In June 1998 the $20 million, 9.1-meter South African Large Telescope partnership was offered. It is now fully subscribed and partners include universities in South Africa, Poland, Rutgers, Munich, Wisconsin, Canterbury (New Zealand), North Carolina, Dartmouth, Carnegie-Mellon, and six UK universities. First light is expected in 2004  

10. UVa astronomers:

“Neither the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, nor the Wilderness Society are parties to that [current Mt. Graham lawsuit].”  

Reply: On the contrary, all of those four organizations are on record as absolutely opposing the entire telescope project on Mt. Graham. [43] We challenge UVa astronomers to present evidence that any of those organizations have reversed their opposition to this project.  On Nov. 8, 1991 those organizations presented the following opposition resolution:  

“…representing fifteen Native American and eleven American environmental organizations do hereby request that the above mentioned consortium immediately stop any further construction works on Mt. Graham, remove the said telescope project to another site which will not impact upon Native American religious practices or the environment…”  


Four resolutions in 1993, 1995, 1999, and 2001, voted upon at the National Congress of American Indians representing essentially all U.S. tribes, strongly opposed this sacrilege and asked for the relocation of the project.  Resolutions opposing the project have also been issued by the National Council of Churches’ Racial Justice Working Group (1995), the Unitarian Church (1997), all U.S. Apache tribes and tribal governments in Arizona and nationwide.  

The most confused claim is UVa’s statement that The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is not a partner in the current Mt. Graham litigation! UVa astronomers failed to understand that TNC is an organization whose mission is often to obtain private land for conservation.  It does not focus on environmentalist advocacy litigation based upon violations of NEPA/ESA/NHPA/NFMA legal issues -- which TNC will tell anyone, are fully addressed by its colleagues in the nation’s many other conservation and preservation groups.   

11. UVa astronomers:

“…One should also be concerned with…pristine environments or endangered species on Mauna Kea or…Chile.”  

Reply: While that is an overstatement of the obvious, any beginning biology student could explain that there are infinitely more biota in the high rainfall, spruce-fir forest of Mount Graham than on the dry Chilean Atacama Desert or the xeric, rock-strewn tundra summit of Mauna Kea. There are 18 plants and animals unique to the world that have evolved on Mt. Graham’s Galapagos-like, “sky island” Hudsonian forest summit ecosystem. These include three mammals, three flowering species, three unique mollusks and many arthropods. Many species on Mt. Graham remain to be identified. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pointed out that the telescope project was located in the heart of the “best” 472 acres of the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel’s critical habitat, namely, the flattest, most fully canopied portion of Mt. Graham’s summit Hudsonian (boreal) forest.  The FWS Biological Opinion states that the 3-scope project “permanently destroys” 47 acres or 10% of the squirrel’s “best” 472 acres of intact, canopied habitat through indirect and direct ecological effects.  Indirect effects include habitat desiccation and fragmentation of the adjacent forest.  Would one destroy 10% of America’s best farmland, let alone 10% of the best habitat of one of the most endangered mammals in North America?  

Prior to the construction of the UA’s all-weather telescope access road to the summit telescope area, this was a pristine, undeveloped Hudsonian forest gem and cradle of evolution.  It was unaffected by the various prior human developments farther down at the lower elevations on the mountain such as the summer cabins, antennas, campgrounds, etc.  That the astronomers habitually pretend to confuse the pristine, summit boreal forest with the developed, lower altitude, non-boreal forest ecosystems on the mountains shows their unwillingness to address in a scholarly and scientific manner the simplest facts of this mountain’s biogeography.  

12. UVa astronomers:

“The Forest Service and the telescope project have continued to show concern and respect for the views of the San Carlos Apache Tribe about Mount Graham.”  

Reply: First of all, UVa was not involved in any of the previous 15 years of the Mt. Graham saga --- so they have no first-hand knowledge of the history of the Apaches and the Mt. Graham telescopes.  Second, the Forest Service and the UA have continued to ignore the lawful rights and strenuous objections of the San Carlos and White Mountain Apaches. Third, there has been over a decade of obfuscation and delay from 1987 up until 2001 by the Forest Service and UA – in their refusal to comply with the cultural and religious protection provisions of NHPA and NEPA.  This has been described previously.  

It is shocking to consider that neither the 1986 Draft nor the 1988 Final Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS, FEIS) included the word “Apache” in their text. Equally reprehensible was the USFS failure to respond to the public testimony submitted in the FEIS, Jan. 19, 1987, which duly informed USFS that the mountain was currently being used by the Apache as a sacred site etc. [44]     


Supervisor of the Coronado National Forest at the time of the NEPA studies, Robert Tippeconnic, revealed in an interview with an Arizona reporter (1993) that he had known all along that the mountain was sacred to the Apache, and deliberately did nothing about it:  

“The information was even ignored by former Coronado National Forest Supervisor Robert Tippeconnic, a Comanche who was raised on the White Mountain Apache Reservation.  Tippeconnic, who now works in Washington, D.C. as the U.S. Forest Service’s national liaison with Indian tribes, says he knew many traditional Apaches considered Mount Graham to be sacred, but would be reluctant to describe their feelings to non-Indians.  Yet during the NEPA planning process, Tippeconnic’s office made no effort to solicit the views of San Carlos Apaches, beyond writing a letter to the tribal council to announce the proposed development.” [45]     

The fact that there has been no real USFS/UA “concern and respect for the views of the Apache” is further evidenced by the refusal of those two entities to consult with anthropologists and Apache scholars Keith Basso, Elizabeth Brandt, Charles Kaut and others.  


Unbelievably disrespectful was the Forest Service’s failure to give due notice to the Apaches in advance of the UA’s notorious, at dawn, “Pearl Harbor” Dec. 7, 1993 clear-cut of East Emerald Peak.  USFS sent out by mail on Friday afternoon Dec. 4, 1993 a letter to the Apaches that UA was going to clear-cut the summit forest of East Emerald Peak on Tuesday.  The covert leveling of the summit of East Emerald Peak was not simply illegal.  It was an egregious attack against the U.S. Native American and environmental community. Authorization for deforestation of East Emerald Peak was to be found nowhere in (1) the UA congressional “rider,” (2) the Biological Opinion, or (3) either environmental impact statement.  

The Forest Service’ Friday letter did not say anything about the Apache Indians being given time to consult or communicate with the Forest Service about the site clearing. The USFS essentially told to the Apache:  we are going to immediately clear-cut a new peak on your sacred mountain which the University of Arizona wants, and, if you don’t like it -- tough!    

These after-the-fact USFS notification letters were mailed to two Apache cultural organizations on the reservation (the Apache Survival Coalition, and Apaches for Cultural Preservation), and to the San Carlos tribal Chairman. By the time the mail was delivered, the summit tree-felling was complete.  Of course, the UA/USFS intent all along was to prevent Apache or environmental lawyers from having time to file an injunction on that action.  

If any person thinks the USFS is an impartial, objective and fair agency, think again.  Not only did environmentalists not receive the insulting two-day notice letter of the UA’s surprise, at-dawn clear-cut. As already mentioned, for over ten years USFS has stalled, delayed and fought against listing Mt. Graham as a Traditional Cultural Property under NHPA.  The Supervisor of the Coronado knew, all along, that the mountain was sacred, yet the word “Apache” did not appear once in the DEIS and FEIS for this mountain which is three miles from the Apache reservation boundary, and was formerly reservation land, and tribal homeland for centuries before that.  


 After losing a series of federal court cases in July 29, 1994, Aug. 23, 1994, April 24, 1995, and July 25, 1995 UA admitted that there were other sites for their Large Binocular Telescope:  

“Astronomers lost another Mount Graham legal battle yesterday, and a UA vice president said it may soon be time to consider alternative telescope sites outside the country.  

“If the university appeals yesterday’s decision and loses again, ‘We certainly would then pursue alternatives outside the U.S.,’

“‘This is a vitally important project, and the project can function in any number of places,’ he said of the Large Binocular Telescope.’  

“‘The project is not site-specific…’  

“‘We’re elated,’ said Robin Silver…‘The real question is when will the university start acknowledging that it’s time to move on, find an alternative site, and start behaving like a university should; respecting preservation of special places and Indian people.’” [47]  

The Vatican had earlier conceded there were other sites other than Mt. Graham:  

“Father Coyne, speaking from his office in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, said that he is aware of other possible sites that are ‘very viable and they’re in Arizona.’” [48]  

“Father Coyne said that if building on Mount Graham becomes an impossibility, the Vatican Observatory would seek another site for the telescope. ‘We will build the telescope regardless of the outcome of this.  There will be other ways to do it and we have other possibilities that we’re not even exploring…’” [49]  

Response to the many courtroom losses by the University of Arizona to the environmental and Native American plaintiffs was summarized in an editorial in the Phoenix Gazette in 1995:  

“The University of Arizona has suffered its most stunning defeat of the last decade.  It didn’t happen on the basketball court: it didn’t happen on the football field – it happened in a court of law.  

“Seven years ago the Arizona congressional delegation pushed through federal legislation that exempted the UofA from the National Environmental Policy Act and all other environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act.  That action allowed telescope construction on a mountain that not only is environmentally sensitive, especially its population of red squirrels, but also held sacred by the Apaches.  

“But in the rush to build on the mountain, the university made a significant error in the site of the $60-million Large Binocular Telescope.  

“UofA scientists simply didn’t do their homework.  Using flawed data when selecting the original site, they chose the worst of six possible mountain locations.  

“But with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service, the university managed to fudge the difference between east and west as mentioned in the law.  It obtained permission to build on a new site (in an area that has had more squirrels in each year of the preceding six years of study) that increases the cluster’s perimeter of land disturbed – its “footprint” – as well as peripheral damage – its “edge effect” – cumulative forest destruction…  

“Now the issue shifts from geography to biology.  If the project is to continue where the UofA wants it to continue, the Forest Service will have to consider, among other things, the traditional cultural properties of the Apaches – the sort of information that requires talking to them, not simply surveying the ground for archeological finds as did the Forest Service on Mount Graham in the past.  

“It is the Apaches, the squirrels and the law that have won.  At least for a while, the mountain can take a deep breath and savor the victory, the importance of which it alone fully understands.” [50]  

Regrettably the long withheld cultural and environmental studies never went forward because UA slipped another “rider” through Congress, again short-circuiting U.S. environmental, cultural and religious protection laws.  Does UVa want to be part of this cultural outrage?  


On October 1997 UA astronomers issued a requirement that any Apache who wished to pray on the mountain, or gather sacred materials etc. must first apply for a permit from the University of Arizona astronomy department.  The UA mandated that Apache “prayer permits:”  

“…must be made in writing at least two business days prior to the date requested for access.  The request should be made to the Mt. Graham Observatory office in Safford, attention John Ratje, Site Manager.” [51]    

UA police arrested an Apache who had been praying on the mountain in September 1997.  UA lawyers argued that he was guilty of criminal trespass for walking on the access road to the summit.  The access road is entirely located on U.S. Forest Service land but UA claims it is “their” road and “their” private domain since they built it.  UA lawyers lost in the state of Arizona Court in their prosecution against the Apache who had been praying in the State of Arizona Court.  They have not apologized to the Apache nor withdrawn their demand that Apaches get prayer permits.  

13. UVa astronomers:


Reply: UVa astronomers are stating here that they will disregard and withhold the First Amendment rights and the freedom of religion protection which minorities in this nation have under the U.S. Constitution.  UVa astronomers would willfully sacrifice traditional Apaches to the “tyranny of the majority” -- as the great writers of democracy have described it – in pursuit of academic self-gratification.  

Let us assume it is reasonable for UVa to advocate trampling the minority rights of that 30% number which UVa claims are non-Christian -- on the White Mountain and San Carlos Reservations.  This represents a failure to recognize the rights of those Apache living today who have retained the traditions, customs and beliefs which have been with them since time immemorial.   

For example, most Apache participate in one of the most profoundly sacred and spiritual events of the Apache people, their Sunrise Dance.  Participation in this event is widespread despite the fact that some of the Christian denominations on the reservations discourage their members’ participation in these ceremonies – seeing them as “pagan” rituals.   

The Mountain Spirits or Gaahn, which live at special mountains such as Mt. Graham, preside at these ceremonies.  They bring to the Apache changing-woman the Apache lifeway. The Gaahn or so-called mountain spirits are present as entities which are masked.  Their identity is not for discussion. The BIA allowed the first openly public Sunrise Dance in San Carlos in 1937.  Prior to that they were performed in secret away from non-Apache eyes.  

A large number of the sacred prayer songs of the Medicinepeople at these ceremonies refer to Dzil Nchaa Si’an.  Dzil Nchaa Si’an starts only 3 miles from the present reservation boundary.  It was tribal homeland for centuries prior to the U.S. military conquest. Mt. Graham, while part of the tribal homeland for centuries, was removed from the reservation boundary in 1873, two years after the reservation boundaries were established.  Mt. Graham and some six other portions of the reservation were unilaterally and systematically removed and given to White settlers who took over these lands for their rich natural resources.  

UVa astronomers erroneously state that there are “1000 tribal members” of the San Carlos Reservation.   This twenty-four fold mathematical error by Ph.D. astronomers is difficult to understand, however, it is consistent with the other erroneous statements UVa astronomers make about Apache traditions and beliefs, and the biogeography of Mt. Graham. There are 11,800 individuals enrolled as San Carlos Apache Reservation and the 12,000 members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. The tribes share a contiguous boundary. Their members share equally in opposition to the telescope desecration on Dzil Nchaa Si’an. The White Mountain tribal and cultural leaders, like those at the San Carlos Reservation, have stated their opposition to the desecration of Dzil Nchaa Si’an (Mt. Graham). [52]  

Ramon Riley, Cultural Resources Director, White Mountain Apache Tribe on Nov. 8, 1995 wrote to R. Kudritzki, Chair., German Council of Astronomers of Munich, Germany:  

“Elders will not give you answers until they know and trust you—until they see you are coming from the heart.  You have to work within the patience of elders and not expect answers immediately.  Everything you do must have respect.  My mother told me that Mt. Graham is one of the sacred mountains, one of the 4 chief mountains…Because of herbs…Crown Dancers, and other power, these mountains teach us… They and the stars guide us. 

People have been praying to the mountains north and south and using these places since time immemorial.  We have been denied access to these places in the name of money.  Those are our mountains.  They are all-important to us.  To me, what I have heard ever since I can remember, is that these are sacred places…We go to the mountains because they bring us closer to God.  I worry that much reliance is being placed on asking direct questions and expecting elders to confront sensitive matters, when this is not our way.” “…the observatory project has significantly harmed our already damaged culture in a profound and almost unforgivable way.”  

In a letter to Ohio State U. Pres. Gordon Gee Ramon Riley on Jan. 8 1997 wrote:

“…the long term health of Apache people and our cultures depend in a very real way on the physical and visual integrity of our ancestral landscapes…no good can come from an observatory built on institutional arrogance and aggressive contempt for divergent values and perspectives.”  

Dallas Massey, Tribal Chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe wrote to President Casteen of the U. of Virginia and President Yudof of the U. of Minnesota:  

“I write to ensure that you hear directly from an Apache leader about the Mount Graham telescope project.  Despite what may be related by some astronomers and public relations consultants, I want you to understand that Mount Graham (the mountains we refer to as Dzil Nchaa Si An) is one of our holiest and most sacred mountains.  Apache elders and cultural specialists have clearly and consistently advised all who have listened that this mountain should not be disturbed for research or commercial purposes.  Please take heed.  

“The White Mountain Apache Tribal Council has insisted upon full and unbiased recognition of the central importance that Dzil Nchaa Si An has in Apache Culture and History.  If you are willing to understand the lessons from our culture and history then the University of Virginia (Minnesota) will avoid any and all association with the telescope project, thus avoiding additional damage to Apache people, and Apache culture, and our sacred mountain.” [53]  

14. UVa astronomers:

“…the Mount Graham issue is being exploited by a small group of activists.”  

Reply: The claim by UVa astronomers that the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache are being exploited by a “small group of activists” is patronizing to the 20,000 some enrolled Western Apache people.  Such a statement implies the Apache people are unable to make their own decisions, and select who are their friends and who are not their friends. Since 1989, numerous resolutions, declarations, and letters from the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache Tribal governments and Apache cultural leaders have stated – and re-stated -- the Apache opposition to the telescope desecration.  Witness the over 50 pages of documents, pleadings, prayers, demonstrations, sacred runs etc. of the Western Apache people (in the “Record of Apache Opposition…” available from the Mount Graham Coalition).  

15. UVa astronomers:

“We are skeptical of the claim that Mount Graham has more life zones and vegetative communities than any other U.S. Mountain…We suspect that among Mount Rainier…Mt. Whitney…Mt. McKinley…etc…etc…there is a mountain likely to exceed Mount Graham…”  

Reply: Dr. Peter Warshall, President, Scientists for the Preservation of Mount Graham replies:  

“That is nonsense.  Mt. Rainier is easily more studied than Mt. Graham and does not have the same number of vertical communities because of its higher latitudes.  In fact, that is true for all the peaks except perhaps Mauna Kea.  What makes Mt. Graham distinct from them all is its: (1) position in the Madrean Archipelago; (2) being at the confluence of the subtropical and Nearctic Flora and Fauna as well as the Plains and Desert Grasslands; (3) as well as riparian habitats in desert; (4) as well as height; (5) as well as pocket habitats like the Cienegas.”  

“And for the UVa astronomers to say that about Mt. McKinley shows complete ignorance and shallow rhetoric.  Any freshman biologist knows that the higher the latitude, the lower the number of ecosystems and species.”  

16. UVa astronomers:

“The high elevation areas…are not pristine natural areas.  There is evidence of former logging near the summits…There is a 40-mile long, two lane highway which runs up…Mt. Graham…The mountain has multiple campgrounds…100 cabins and a Bible camp…280,000 recreational visitor days…”  

Reply:  That is not true.  NONE of these developments have occurred in or near Mt. Graham’s summit boreal or Hudsonian forest.  Until the all-weather telescope road was cut the boreal forest was only accessible by a barely passable road which was inaccessible most of the year.  

The statement of commercial logging at the summit boreal or Hudsonian ecosystem is inexcusably erroneous, as is the existence of a two-lane highway there. Also erroneous is the claim that there are cabins, campgrounds or 280,000 visitor days in this remote, boreal, summit forest. As stated before, all of those activities have occurred at locations below that precious, unique, irreplaceable boreal summit ecosystem.  


The issue of Mt. Graham has always been the issue of the integrity of this unique, southernmost North American Hudsonian ecosystem at the top of the mountain.  It is the preferred home of Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis and supports 17 other plants and animals found nowhere else in the world (three mammals, three plants, several high altitude-adapted snails and various unique arthropods.  

The USFWS Biological Opinion pointed out that the fragmentation and fenestration of this summit ecosystem by the telescopes would result in the permanent destruction of 47 acres, not just the 8.6 acres claimed by the Mt. Graham astronomers.  

The “best,” fully canopied forest habitat for the squirrel was determined by the USFWS to be 472 acres, not the various thousands of acres alluded to by the UVa astronomers below the summit ecosystem. It is the undisturbed summit Hudsonian forest that is important for the integrity of that ecosystem.  The telescopes, their access roads, and associated activities, cause forest fragmentation, exposure of arboreal species to predators, mortality to the sun-intolerant spruce/fir boreal tree species, and the occurrence of tree insect infestations.  

Continuous telescope construction traffic and astronomer traffic have caused multiple reported and unreported roadkills of the severely endangered few hundred remaining Mt. Graham red squirrels.  Referring to the astrophysical project as a small or “tiny” impact is in disagreement with any impartial biologists who have studied this issue.   

After the GAO reported to Congress that the USFWS Biological Opinion (BO) approving the telescopes was fraudulent (July 26, 1990), a blue-ribbon USFWS panel of five nationally respected biologists was appointed.  They concluded a new Biological Opinion was warranted. As pointed out earlier, President Bush’s Department of Agriculture and Justice Dept, in August 23, 1990, concluded that the UA’s Congressional “rider” precluded any further squirrel studies (BO’s) by the USFWS.  

In this regard, the Society for Conservation Biology, in April 1991, representing 4000 members internationally, passed a resolution opposing the project and describing Mt. Graham as:  

“a unique treasure of North American biological diversity, being the only intact spruce-fir “sky island ecosystem remaining in the Sonoran Desert of the United States and Mexico.”   

Scientists for the Preservation of Mt. Graham, representing 250 regional and international scientists passed a resolution in July 1990 describing Mt. Graham as a:  

priceless cradle of evolution” and the telescope project as “incompatible with the goal of preserving natural conditions and evolutionary processes.”  

17. UVa astronomers:

“The Abert [sic] squirrel, a serious competitor to the endangered red squirrel…”

Reply: That is untrue.  Dr. Peter Warshall of the Scientists for the Preservation of Mt. Graham, comments regarding the Abert’s squirrel: “There is zero evidence for competitive exclusion on Mt. Graham or anywhere.  There is some overlap in the Doug Fir forest but all indications are that the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel wins in these contests…This is the astronomer’s diversionary tactic to keep focus away from habitat loss and setbacks to recovery.”  

18. UVa astronomers:

“…the Mt. Graham red squirrel was thought to be extinct in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, it was rediscovered in the early ‘70s.  There seems to have been no effort at that time to list the squirrel as endangered or even to remove the squirrel from the state hunting list until 1986.”  

Reply:  UVa astronomers reveal their inability to understand the history of Mt. Graham and the Endangered Species Act. Trying to list a species as endangered was very difficult then, as it is today. The squirrel had de facto protection in its Hudsonian sanctuary on the top of Mt. Graham prior to this telescope project. Expending funds, energy and time listing a species already having de facto protection would have wastefully diverted resources from other species facing imminent threats.   

Wilderness designation, not astronomy, was the expected legislative future for this irreplaceable boreal, summit, cradle of evolution forest until the astronomers appeared.  In 1983 they legislatively removed its wilderness protection in Congress. Until the astronomers proposed to fragment and deforest this tiny, remote Hudsonian forest treasure, the protection of that species was not an issue.   

The hunted species, the plentiful Abert’s squirrel, is not a boreal forest species and is not adapted for survival on the Hudsonian forest on the summit.  That is where the red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis can thrive. The Abert’s squirrel, being three times the weight of the red squirrel was an obvious choice for the hunter’s pot.  Likewise, the difficult climb up the hardly passable, dirt track, or the steep foot trail up to the boreal summit forest made the red squirrel a non-choice for hunters.  

Additionally, the Arizona Game and Fish warden testified to the GAO in 1990 that in more than 20 years of inspections of hunters bags, only one red squirrel was ever found. Observatory-related traffic and observatory vehicles have already officially been responsible for many more roadkills. Undoubtedly a great many more unreported astronomy-related roadkills have befallen this critically endangered species.

19. UVa astronomers:

“NOAO/AURA studies have shown that the Mt. Graham sites are excellent.”  The results of a 10-year UA study rank Emerald Peak slightly behind Mauna Kea…and ahead of sites in Chile.”  

Reply: NOAO did direct comparison studies at both places. As previously discussed, the NOAO/AURA March 1987 (COMPARISON STUDY OF ASTRONOMICAL SITE QUALITY OF MOUNT GRHAM AND MAUNA KEA- Merrill, Forbes, et al) studies indicated Mauna Kea clearly superior to Mt. Graham. Mauna Kea’s visibility at 0.21-0.30arc-seconds of RMS image motion (corrected) was clearly superior to Mt. Graham’s at 0.41-0.47 arc-seconds (corrected).  In summary:  

(1)   “seeing” was some twice as acute at M.K. (a major factor in operating costs– namely the percentage of nights with good visibility or seeing)  

(2)   nights suitable for astronomy 69% at M.K, only 58% at Mt. G., (again, a major factor in operating cost per suitable night for viewing). 

(3)   ten out of 11 different astrophysical criteria parameters showed Mauna Kea superior, including: 1. Elevation, 2. Latitude, 3. Sky clarity, 4. Relative humidity at ground, 5. Nocturnal temperature. 6. Day-Night Temp. difference. 7. Vertical T gradient. 8. Rainfall.  

(4)   Lastly, the UVa astronomers’ contention that “seeing” in Chile was inferior was not in agreement with the NOAO March 1, 1990 report. [54]   That paper showed “seeing” at Mount Graham was clearly inferior to both Cerro Pachon (Chile) and Mauna Kea (for details continue reading).  


UA’s 1993-94 Cromwell studies found bottom-ranked visibility or “seeing” at both Emerald Peak (the original 1988 rider’s LBT site) and East Emerald Peak (the second rider’s LBT site) due, they said, to the area’s poor (flat) topography and dense forestation. East Emerald Peak (the LBT site) was an undesirable “two” category (with “one” as worst seeing, and “eight” as best) – not what one would want for a world-class telescope.  What Cromwell pointed out was that due to (1) the flat topography and (2) heavy old-growth forestation of the Emerald Peak sites, the air there was turbulent and non-laminar.  This resulted in bad “seeing.”  In layman’s terms, the problem is the excessive twinkling or blurring of the stars over Mt. Graham from these sites.   

Cromwell dates his studies as starting Feb. 1987 but he did not complete them until Nov. 1992, long after UA had disastrously and mistakenly lobbied Congress for the poorest of all the six Mt. Graham sites he evaluated.  

The results of the previously mentioned UA study by Woolf, August 1992, and the sanitized UA Strittmatter/Woolf October 1992 study, revealed the painful truth. East Emerald Peak was “unacceptable” by the un-sanitzed version.  By the UA-sanitized version it was still “marginal.”  

Despite the illegal move to East Emerald Peak, the “seeing” or visibility there was still below “excellent, “good” “satisfactory,” or even “marginal” criteria (according to the July 1992 UA Neville Woolf paper).  That paper determined the (present) LBT site falls into the “unacceptable” or basement category.  To rise to the “marginal” category the telescope mirror height would have to be 27 meters high, which it is not. Woolf said such height would be “unnecessarily expensive.”  They would have to settle for “marginal” or “unacceptable” visibility or “seeing” on Mt. Graham.  

Even at its current insufficient height for satisfactory visibility, and with its additional 15-meter roof superstructure, it is 40 meters or 131 feet high at rooftop.  This 11-story, huge, white box is described in five Apache tribal council resolutions as a “display of profound disrespect,” [55] It is permanently visible from portions of both the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache reservations.  


UA’s Woolf, Woolf/Strittmatter, and Cromwell 1992, 1993 and 1994 studies revealing UA’s disastrous siting blunders on Mt. Graham were kept under tight security.  Eventually, the blunders of the most disliked department on campus leaked out. [56]   Once broadcast, these studies were eagerly exposed by the media and others through Arizona’s Freedom of Information Act laws.  

The science reporter for the Arizona Daily Star [57] first broke the story, having obtained the “secret” August 28, 1992 UA study by Neville Woolf pointing out that “seeing” at the site UA lobbied Congress for in 1988 was, in UA’s own words, “unacceptable” and “inappropriate.”  

UA realized their Woolf studies would reveal to potential Mt. Graham partners the bad “seeing” at their Mt. Graham Emerald Peak LBT site.  Hence, in October 20, 1992 a new Steward paper – this time co-authored with Peter Strittmatter, head of the Astronomy Department -- sanitized the original Woolf definitions.  The category “marginal” with the very same 0.2 arc-second degradation was changed to “satisfactory.”  The category “unacceptable,” also with the same 0.25 arc-second degradation was changed to “marginal.”  Even by sanitizing the definitions, the LBT would have to be built 27 meters high (which UA conceded was cost-wise prohibitive for them) to get out of the “marginal” category. The reality was that the 25-meter high LBT mirror was still either “unacceptable” or “marginal”-- depending on which UA astro-semantics you prefer.  

Two months later UA let the cat out of the bag regarding the horrendous visibility problem of UA’s LBT on Emerald Peak. UA’s R. H. Cromwell presented a paper entitled “The Effects of Mountain Topography and Trees on Astronomical Seeing and Turbulence in the Local Boundary Layer” at the American Astronomical Society, on Jan. 3, 1993, in Phoenix. UA attempted to cover up their monumental siting blunder by renaming Cromwell’s paper “Large Binocular Telescope Site Seeing.” These UA 1993 topography studies concurred with what NOAO (1984) studies had shown -- and why 37 out of 56 U.S. sites were ranked better than Mt. Graham. [58]   UA’s Cromwell study said Emerald Peak was a “one” and East Emerald Peak a “two” on an eight-point scale (of “one” as worst and “eight” as best).  Hence, both the site UA lobbied Congress for in 1988, and their illegal 1993 clear-cut site were the bottom of the barrel – anything but sites appropriate for world-class astronomy.  

The NOAO study found image separation (“seeing” or visibility) on Mauna Kea clearly superior to Mt. Graham -- 0.21-0.30 sec. on Mauna Kea vs. the clearly inferior 0.41-0.47 sec. separation on Mt. Graham.  

The March 1990 NOAO Newsletter report [59] showed that “seeing” on the Cerro Pachon Observatory in Chile (and Mauna Kea) was clearly better than Mount Graham.  Their graph of “seeing” at these three sites indicated that a telescope mirror on Mt. Graham would have to be some 70 meters high (that’s about 230 ft., or some 20 stories high!) to match the quality of a 25-meter high mirror at Cerro Pachon or Mauna Kea.  


Why is the UA mirror lab in 12th or 13th place, and in last place, in the world competition to create 8-meter or larger telescope mirrors?  Why do construction delays, breakdowns, and lost contracts plague the UA so-called spun-cast, stressed lap, borosilicate mirror technology?  Why have the UA’s 8-meter mirrors proposed for construction in their mirror lab in the last decade been stalled, backed up, or lost to other manufacturers who were more competitive?  Why are other U.S., German, and French companies undertaking the mirror contracts UA thought would be theirs? Why did UA technology choose a type of optical glass that expands and contracts with temperature and is an air-conditioning nightmare for astronomers?  

The 1991 UA Booz-Allen report, commissioned by the UA Administration, was obtained through Arizona’s Freedom of Information laws.  It reveals the Columbus’ (LBT) two 8-meter mirrors, scheduled for the 1992 Columbus quincentenary, were moved up and re-scheduled for completion in 1994 and 1997.  But now UA says they won’t be ready until 2003 and 2004.  Booz-Allen had the Gemini’s two 8-meter telescope mirrors scheduled for completion by the UA mirror lab in 1995 and 1997.  Their contracts evaporated.  UA’s product couldn’t even remotely compete in the marketplace.  

During the time others were productively siting, building and installing twelve 8-meter, or larger, telescopes in the 80’, 90’s and 21st century, by the rulebook in conformance with U.S. law; UA was lobbying, finagling, and back-door pressuring federal agencies to break the law.  Their intent was to short-circuit or circumvent U.S. environmental and Native American cultural protection law.  

Meanwhile, the other institutions of the world that were playing by the rules kept moving forward. Now in the 21th century UA is still in litigation in federal court opposing the traditional Apache who are trying to stop UA’s unlawful desecration. UA now finds itself in 12th or last place -- and still sliding. Despite glowing UA press releases, their non-competitive mirror product has resulted in the following proof of their chain of breakdowns, delays, and lost opportunities, namely:  

1. Keck I, 10 meters, 1990, Hawaii

2. Keck II, 10 meters, 1996, Hawaii

3. Hobby-Eberly, 9.2 meters, 1999, Texas

4. Subaru 8.3 meters, 1999, Hawaii

5. Very Large Telescope, Antu, 8.2 meters, 1998, Chile

6. Very Large Telescope, Keuyen, 8.2 meters, 1999, Chile

7. Very Large Telescope, Melipai, 8.2 meters, 2000, Chile

8. Very Large Telescope, Yepun, 8.2 meters, 2000, Chile

9. Gemini North, 8.1 meters, 2000, Hawaii

­10. Gemini South, 8.1 meters, 2000, Chile


11. Gran Telescopio Canarias, 10.4 meters, 2002 Canary Is.

12. Large Binocular Telescope #1, 8.4 meters, 2003??

13. Large Binocular Telescope #2, 8.4 meters, 2004??  

20. UVa astronomers:

“…some of the more astronomically desirable sites contained critical biological or cultural resources.  As a result the University of Arizona abandoned its effort to build on these sites.”  

Reply:  It has been previously pointed out that the 1990 GAO testimony to Congress revealed that the USFWS Aug. 31, 1987 Draft Biological Opinion (BO) concluded that building on Emerald Peak was biologically unacceptable or a “full jeopardy” ruling.  That there were more sensitive areas on Mt. Graham does not in any way excuse UA or UVa from being part of a project rendering “permanently unsuitable” 10% [60] of this extremely endangered squirrel’s best habitat.  

UA had demanded that they be allowed to build on Emerald Peak despite the jeopardy BO designation by USFWS. After continuous pressure upon the agencies from congressional office staffs and UA, a bludgeoned USFWS produced a BO permitting construction of a 3-scope, 8.7-acre footprint on an Emerald Peak site they had previously ruled as incompatible with species survival provisions of the Endangered Species Act.   

That footprint rendered “PERMANENTLY UNSUITABLE” 47.7 acres of the endangered squirrel’s best habitat.  USFWS said there were only 472 acres of that “best” habitat on Mt. Graham (not the biogeographically flawed hundreds and thousands of acres UVa astronomers have purported on their website).  The BO stated that the 8.6 project acres, as a result of direct, and indirect “edge” effect, permanently destroyed 47.7 acres of prime Mt. Graham Red Squirrel habitat (see APPENDIX TABLE 1, Biological Opinion, July 14, 1988).  

That 47.7 acres represented 10% of the endangered squirrel’s best habitat.  Would anyone want to destroy 10% of Virginia’s or Arizona’s or this nation’s best farmland -- or 10% of the best habitat of any highly endangered species when alternative sites existed?  Now one can understand why UA had to go to Congress and sneak through their radical, precedent-setting “rider” legislation. One might expect such ethics from a logging, mining company or power plant, but not from a so-called “center of higher learning!”  

21. UVa astronomers:

“…the new site [the East Emerald Peak, covert, illegal clear-cut] was seen as...having less impact on the squirrels.”  

Reply:  That is not true.  It had the opposite result.  It was more harmful to the squirrel.  The Forest Service never knew beforehand how many squirrels there were at the illegal East Emerald Peak clear-cut site’s 300-meter impact perimeter.  The reason they didn’t know was that the squirrel midden (squirrels are currently counted by their middens—the caches where there food are stored) tabulation area never included the entire eastern half of the illegal clear-cut area. The next spring, after the infamous, illegal Dec. 7, 1993 clear-cut, biologists tragically discovered that there were many more squirrels harmed at the illegal clear-cut site than there were at the original Emerald Peak site mandated by UA’s 1988 “rider”. [61]  

22. UVa astronomers:

“The words “indefensible” and “fraudulent” do not appear in our transcript of the [GAO] testimony.”  

Reply:  The UVa astronomers fail to mention that the Mt. Graham Coalition never put those two words as citations with quotation marks. UVa astronomers are setting up another straw man argument. The actual words of the letter of GAO Director, James Duffus III (Nov. 9, 1990) to U.S. Representative Gerry Studds spell out how Michael Spear and the USFWS broke the law and what was clearly fraudulent and indefensible in his actions:  

“We continue to hold the view that the Emerald Peak development alternative contained in FWS’ biological opinion was not supported by available biological evidence…” (page 1)  

“In our view, the previous studies do not support the Emerald Peak development alternative under any circumstances.  Biologists who authored these studies concluded then, and continue to believe, that any loss of critical habitat on Emerald Peak poses an unacceptable threat to the Mt. Graham red squirrel’s existence.” (Page 3)  

“…the Regional Director and his staff who pressed for the Emerald Peak alternative’s inclusion in the biological opinion could point to no data or studies to specifically support their position.” (page 14)  

“…The only relevant issue in assessing the proposed project’s impact is whether the loss of habitat associated with the project poses an unacceptable threat to the red squirrel’s survival.  On the basis of the best scientific data, the majority of biologists we interviewed believe the threat is unacceptably high.” (page 15)

 23. UVa astronomers:

“…the project is sensitive to the concerns of Native Americans and has complied with all federal cultural preservation law.”  

Reply:  If their claim was true then why does the word “Apache” not appear in the text of either USFS impact statement?  Why does UA arrest Apache for praying on the mountain?  Why does UA require prayer permits two business days in advance stating exactly where they will be praying? Why did the UA go to Congress to circumvent U.S. cultural and religious protection laws?  

As explained earlier, official Draft Environmental Impact Statement testimony on January 20, 1987 notified the U.S. Forest Service of contemporary Apache religious use of Mt. Graham.  USFS totally disregarded this testimony!  As pointed out, the USFS for over a decade (1986,88-01), fought compliance with the NHPA/Traditional Cultural Property designation for Dzil Nchaa Si’an (Mt. Graham).   

USFS has contended that they never had to comply in the NEPA and NHPA process since UA lawyers have argued that their notorious “rider” exempted that agency from the fiduciary and legal requirements of those laws.  What makes this ironic is that it is common knowledge in Arizona that high mountains are extremely important to Native Americans and their traditions and religious beliefs.  For USFS, like UVa and UA to deny and ignore this fact on a mountain that was aboriginal homeland for centuries, originally reservation land, and currently only three miles away from current reservation boundaries, is difficult to understand.  

24. UVa astronomers:

Harrison Talgo and Wm. Belvado won handily in their districts…” “In a letter to the Canton Repository last year [actually, Feb. 1996] Talgo stated, ‘In truth, most Apaches do not consider the proposed observatory to be an inappropriate use…’”  

Reply: Talgo was defeated in his re-election campaign for Tribal Chairman in Nov. 94, and lost re-election again in his Tribal Council district in Nov. 2000. Soon after losing election in 1994 he became a paid “construction supervisor” for UA on Mt. Graham. [62]   After this he became a paid employee of the Mt. Graham Large Binocular Telescope Corporation. [63]    

Talgo’s 1996 Canton Repository letter demonstrates that he has a phenomenally short and convenient memory.  Namely, he voted and signed multiple resolutions and documents opposing the telescopes over the years.  On July 10, 1990 he voted for passage of a resolution opposing the telescope project. [64]   On June 4, 1991 he signed a plea to the Coronado Nation Forest opposing the project. [65] On August 24, 1992 he likewise signed an appeal to German Parliament. [66]   On Oct. 30, 1992 Talgo (and the entire council) signed an opposition letter to the Vatican, [67] and on May 21, 1993 Talgo voted reaffirmation of the July 1990 opposition resolution.  On Oct. 24, 1994 Talgo, as Tribal Chairman, signed and sent a letter to the Italian Parliament stating:  

Dzil Nchaa Si An, which means Mount Graham in our language, is the core of our traditional practices. This mountain is the spring of our life, the protector of our existence.  Since before the Vatican and German Telescopes were built on it, we have voiced our pleas to respect its sacredness to no avail…we respect our cultural leaders.  The source of our spirit has already been desecrated and it is further threatened by this third telescope.  We cannot say enough to help you understand how vital Dzil Nchaa Si An is to us…” [68]

  After Talgo lost his re-election bid in 1994, he became a “construction engineer” on Mt. Graham, and a well-paid UA “Apache consultant.”  Since then, UA trots Talgo around to various newspapers and media events.  [69] Talgo signs pro-scope letters-to-the-editor for UA to Ohio, Germany, Minnesota, etc. He was re-elected to Council in 1996 from the Bylas district but lost again in the Nov. 1999 election.  Despite Talgo’s efforts as UA’s “good” Indian, the Tribal Council, including Talgo, has expressed countless, signed, opposition documents, and at least five opposition resolutions from 1989 through 2002 -- many of which Talgo voted in favor of, or signed.  There was the exception of one solitary “neutrality” resolution in 1993, which lasted only some 16 months (see “Record of Apache Opposition…”).

  UVa astronomers next quote a Dec. 1995 letter Councilman Belvado signed for UA to the U.S. Congress.  It was sent at the time of UA’s effort to sneak through a second Mt. Graham “rider.”  The purpose of this second, notorious anti-environmental, anti-cultural law “rider” was to circumvent the court injunctions against UA and “legitimize” their covert, illegal clear-cut of East Emerald Peak. Belvado, in his letter, claimed that the project “never has been an issue of concern for the San Carlos Apache people.” He claimed this even though the Medicinepeople, cultural leaders, elders and tribal government of the Apache were on record with endless, signed documents of protest. Belvado, in his letter, also erroneously stated to Congress that “the Tribe has never been a party to…letters of complaint to the Government regarding the Mt. Graham telescopes.”  In fact, the record shows there were at least five Tribal Council telescope protest letters to the Government:70 three to the USFS, one to President Clinton, and one to Janet Reno (see “Record of Apache Opposition...”).71    

[1] Updated by UVa astronomy department: Oct. 18, 2001.

[2] See also rebuttal to U. of Minnesota astronomers at:

[3] John McGee, Supervisor, Coronado NF to Dallas Massey, Chair, White Mountain Apache Tribe, March 30, 2000.

[4] Declaration of Keith Basso, Ph.D., April 9, 1992, Apache Survival Coalition vs. USA/USFS, U.S. District Court, Phoenix, AZ.

[5] “How The UA Knocked Off Mt. Graham,” Chuck Bowden, City Magazine, Tucson, AZ, Jan. 1989 (and elsewhere on this web site).

[6] “The Biopolitics of the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel,” Peter Warshall, Conservation Biology, Dec. 1994;

[7] Mount Graham Coalition, et al. Vs. McGee, et al.

[8] March 26, 1990, Federal District Court of Judge Alfredo Marquez

[9] Federal Court of Appeals, Dec. 13, 1990, Court transcript, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, and UA attorney David Todd

[10] Federal District Court, March 26, 1990, Court transcript, Judge Alfredo Marquez and UA attorney David Todd (emphasis added).

[11] Dec. 14, 1990, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, AZ, Jim Erickson, science reporter, “Federal panel hears scope arguments” (emphasis added).

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Office of Public Affairs, Aug. 23, 1990 News Release. George H. Leonard, associate chief of the U.S. Dept of Agriculture for the U.S. Forest Service (emphasis added).

[15] FWS’ Biological Opinion Based on Other Than Biological Information, U.S. General Accounting Office, Testimony to Congress, Statement of James Duffus III, GAO Director, June 26, 1990 (emphasis added).

[16] Ibid. (emphasis added).

[17] Arizona Republic, Feb. 7, 1990, “Red-squirrel study fudged, biologists say” by Sam Negri. Two federal biologists were ordered by superiors to write a report concluding that the construction of telescopes on Mount Graham would not harm the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel, according to the biologists’ sworn statements filed in U.S. District court…In the deposition, [Sierra Club attorney] Mark Hughes asked Sam Spiller, [head, Arizona USFWS office] “Were you then instructed to prepare a Biological Opinion that would permit the telescope project to be placed on Emerald Peak?” “Yes,” Spiller replied.  Spiller also acknowledged that he previously had studied the Emerald Peak site and determined that it would be a bad place to put the telescopes because of the adverse impact on red-squirrel habitat.  He said the Fish and Wildlife Service’s draft opinion on the project’s environmental impact “stated that any destruction of habitat on Emerald Peak…would have greater detrimental impacts than the proposal on High Peak and that…these impacts on Emerald Peak could not be reduced…”

[18] Public commentary submitted to the Mt. Graham observatory Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Jan. 19, 1987, by Paul Pierce.

[19] John Dougherty, Star Gate, Phoenix New Times, June 16, 1993, (emphasis added).

[20] “Biological Opinion,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Draft, to Sotero Muniz, Regional Forester, Albuquerque, NM, from USFWS Regional Director, Albuquerque, NM, August 31, 1987 (emphasis added).

[21] Roger Lynds and Jean Goad, Observatory-Site Reconnaissance, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 96750-766, Sept. 1984 (peer reviewed).

[22] Comparison Study of Astronomical Site Quality of Mount Graham and Mauna Kea, Michael Merrill, Fred Forbes, National Optical Astronomy Observatories, March 1987

[23] Columbus Project Telescope Site, Draft, Neville Woolf, Steward Observatory, UA, July 1992; Site Testing Results within the 150 acres Mt. Graham international observatory research site, Draft, Neville Woolf, Peter Strittmatter, Steward Observatory, UA, Oct. 20, 1992

[24] DEIS commentary, Jan. 16, 1987, Patricia Sanderson Port, Regional Environmental Officer, U.S. Dept. of Interior, Office of Environmental Project Review, San Francisco to R.B. Tippeconnic, Forest Supervisor, Coronado National Forest

[25] See Apache Survival Coalition v. U.S., 21 F.3d 895 (9th cir. 1994), and Apache Survival Coalition v. U.S. (9th cir. 118F. 3d 663 (9th cir.).

[26] Correspondence from Katherine Barns Soffer, Associate General Counsel, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Wash. D.C., to John McGee, Forest Supervisor, Coronado NF., Aug. 16, 1996

[27] Correspondence: Don Klima, Director, Office of Planning and Review, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Wash. D.C., to John McGee, Forest Supervisor, Coronado NF, Sept. 30, 1998 (emphasis added).

[28] Roger Lynds and Jean Goad, Observatory-Site Reconnaissance, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 96750-766, Sept. 1984

[29] Comparison Study of Astronomical Site Quality of Mount Graham and Mauna Kea, Michael Merrill, Fred Forbes, National Optical Astronomy Observatories, March 1987

[30] UA, California Inst. Of Tech., U. of California, U. of Chicago, U. of Colorado, Harvard, U. of Hawaii, U. of Illinois, Indiana U., Iowa State U., Johns Hopkins U., U. of Maryland, MIT, U. of Michigan, State U. of New York/Stony Brook, Ohio State, Penn State, Princeton, U. of  Texas, U. of Washington, U. of Wisc.-Madison, Yale, U. of Chile, Santiago, UNAM (Mexico)

[31] The Scientific Justification for the Mt. Graham Observatory, compiled by UA, March 1987.

[32] Columbus Project Telescope Site, Draft, Neville Woolf, Steward Observatory, UA, July 1992;

[33] Site Testing Results within the 150 acres Mt. Graham international observatory research site, Draft, Neville Woolf, Peter Strittmatter, Steward Observatory, UA, Oct. 20, 1992

[34] The Effects of Mountain Topography and Trees on Astronomical Seeing and Turbulence in the Local Boundary Layer, R.H. Cromwell, C.N. Blair and N.J. Woolf (Steward Observatory/UA), American Astronomical Society 181st Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, Jan 1993.  Five years after lobbying their ill-sited Emerald Peak/Mt. Graham “rider,” with Emerald Peak having the “worst”visibility, this UA study showed how UA had ignored the importance of mountaintop topography- as had been evaluated in the 1984 Roger Lynds NOAO/AURA studies. Cromwell, at the AAS convention confirmed UA’s ill-conceived, ill-advised Mt. Graham siting blunder: 


“Two dominant influences on the boundary layer are the topography of the mountain site and the presence of trees. A gentle, rounded mountaintop or a knoll on a ridge line suffers from degraded turbulence whereas a sharp, isolated mountain peak contains a superior, low-turbulence boundary layer.  This is because for a mountain with a broad profile [much of Mt. Graham is relatively flat on top] considerable air first interacts with the lower foreground mountain surface, becomes turbulent by mixing, and is then forced to flow up and over the top of the mountain.  On the other hand, a sharp isolated peak permits easy passage of its newly-found turbulent products around its flanks, and the remaining turbulent layer that is carried over the top of the site is considerably thinner and less turbulent.  Considering trees, trees tend to hold in cold air near the mountain surface, creating a reservoir of cold air, whereas barren mountain surfaces are more readily swept clean of their cooled surface air.”


[35] Site Testing for the Large Binocular Telescope, R.H. Cromwell, C.N. Blair, N.J. Woof, Steward Observatory/UA, DRAFT, August 1994.  

[36] ibid

[37] CONGRESSIONAL RECORD-HOUSE, page H14309, Dec.12, 1995, “Amendment No. 173: Deletes Senate language requiring the Indian Health Service to prepare a report on HIV-AIDS prevention needs, and insert in lieu thereof a provisions which allows the construction of a third telescope on Mount Graham, in the Coronado National Forest, Arizona, to proceed under the terms of the Arizona-Idaho Conservation Act. of 1988, P.L. 100-096.”

[38] “Mt. Graham not holy site, Vatican says,” Phoenix Gazette, David Hoye, March 12, 1992

[39] Personal Reflections upon the Nature of Sacred…” Castel Gandolfo, George Coyne, S.J., Director, Vatican Observatory, First Edition, May 25, 1992 (emphasis added).

[40] “Telescope Site Set for Hawaii,” Harvard Crimson, Harry James Wilson, May 10, 1991. “James Cornell, the Center’s publications manager…pointing out that the Mauna Kea site is prone to much less humidity and precipitation than Mt. Graham. As water vapor obscures submillimeter radiation, Mauna Kea would thus be able to yield greater scientific benefits.”  Hawaii site chosen for telescope, Phoenix Gazette, May 6, 1991, Michael Murphy. “Smithsonian Secretary Robert Adams…said the regents’decision was ‘reached on scientific grounds’…” “He said the Mauna Kea was a ‘very significantly superior site’ over Mt. Graham.”   

[41] News Release, Michigan State University, March 17, 1994, Provost Lou Anna Kimsey Simon:  “In Arizona, the Mount Graham project has stirred controversy over environmental and Native American issues…We have made our decision on what we believe to be in the overall best interests, both financial and academic, of Michigan State University.”

[42] Resolution of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh, April 5, 1994 (emphasis added).

[43] Press Release, “Resolution in Support of the San Carlos Apache Affected by a planned construction of a telescope complex on Mt. Graham, Arizona,” Nov. 27, 1991, Native American/Environmentalist Roundtable Meeting, Washington, D.C. co-signers: American Indian Resource Institute, Association on American Indian Affairs, Center for Resource Management, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Council of Energy Resource Tribes, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, Morning Star Foundation, National Indian Policy Center, National Tribal Environmental Council, National Parks & Conservation Association, National Audubon Society, National Congress of American Indians, National Wildlife Federation, Native American Rights Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Several Indian Tribes and Native Religious Leaders, The Sierra Club, Smithsonian Institution, The Wilderness Society.

[44] Written testimony submitted to USFS Mt. Graham FEIS, Jan. 19, 1987, Paul Pierce, Director, Coalition for the Preservation of Mt. Graham. “…San Carlos Apache people…are still using the high peaks of the Pinalenos for religious reasons…this religious use of the mountain is contemporary and has been happening over the last few hundred years…The Forest Service’s contact with the San Carlos Tribal Council did not adequately identify these impacts.  The astrophysical development can be viewed as a violation of their religious freedom rights…”

Incredibly, no USFS interviews, discussions or communications with cultural leaders, Medicine Men or Medicine Women, or Elders occurred following this testimony.

[45] Star Gate, Phoenix New Times, John Dougherty, June 16, 1993 (emphasis added).

[46] “Graham scope work barred pending further study,” Arizona Daily Star, Jim Erickson, July 29, 1994; “Ruling orders university to stop cutting trees at telescope site,” Phoenix Gazette, AP, July 29, 1994; “Court deals blow to UA telescope,” Arizona Republic, AP, April 25, 1995; “Court denies UA telescope request,” Arizona Daily Star, July 26, 1995.

[47] “Appellate court upholds ban on telescope site, Project may go elsewhere,” Arizona Daily Star, Jim Erickson, April 25, 1995 (emphasis added).

[48] “Vatican opposes scope delay,” The Catholic Sun, Nancy Wiechec, July 5, 1960.

[49] Untitled, The Catholic Sun, page 3, June 7, 1990.

[50] “THE LAW SIDES WITH THE MOUNTAIN,” Phoenix Gazette, Editorial, April 28, 1995

[51] Letter, of B.E. Powell, Associate Director, Steward Observatory, U. of Arizona, to George Asmus, District Ranger, Safford District, Coronado National Forest, Safford, AZ,, October 7, 1997.

[52] Letter to Ohio State U. Pres. Gordon Gee from Ramon Riley, Cultural Resources Director, White Mtn. Apache Tribe, Jan. 8 1997: 

“…the long term health of Apache people and our cultures depend in a very real way on the physical and visual integrity of our ancestral landscapes…no good can come from an observatory built on institutional arrogance and aggressive contempt for divergent values and perspectives.”

[53] Dallas Massey, Sr., Chairman, white Mountain Apache Tribe to John Casteen, Pres., U. of Virginia, and Mark Yudof, Pres., U. of Minnesota, Jan 9, 2002

[54] NOAO Observations Newsletter, No. 21, 1 March 1990, pp 32-34, Site Survey Progress Report, Doug Geisler, Bill Weller

[55] Six tribal resolutions of the San Carlos Tribe have referred to this passage: “…any permanent modification of the present form of this mountain constitutes a display of profound disrespect for a cherished feature of our original homeland as well as a serious violation of our traditional religious beliefs…”

[56] The Mt. Graham telescope project, the Large Binocular Telescope, and the mirror lab have been the darlings as well as the power brokers of the UA Administration. But the tens of millions of dollars in lobbying and litigation to outflank U.S. environmental and Native American laws, the lost millions in mirror lab fiascoes, breakdowns and production failures, and the millions in indirect cost recovery monies siphoned off the non-Research-1 departments to prop-up astronomy took their toll. The Administration’s “creative” indirect cost recovery accounting/siphonage has been challenged in lawsuits publicized in the Arizona press.  The media seems to conclude that UA Administration accountants have skills clearly matching those of Arthur Anderson.

[57] “UA wants new site for largest scope; foes vow court fight.” Arizona Daily Star, Jim Erickson, October 11, 1992.

[58] Roger Lynds and Jean Goad, Observatory-Site Reconnaissance, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 96750-766, Sept. 1984 (peer reviewed).

[59] Site Survey Progress Report, National Optical Astronomy Observations Newsletter, No. 21, 1 March 1990, pp. 32-34, Doug Geisler, Bill Weller

[60] Appendix Table 1, Biological Opinion, Mt. Graham Astrophysical Area Plan, USFWS, Albuquerque, NM, July 14, 1988,

[61] Mt. Graham Red Squirrel Monitoring Program, Quarterly reports, UA, Paul Young, Sept. 1989 through June 1995 report data.  In 45 out of 50 months the illegal East Emerald Peak site harmed (300-meter proximity) more squirrels than the Emerald Peak 1988 UA “rider”site.

[62] Denver Post, Star Wars, Steve Lipsher, May 18, 1997

[63] E-mail, OSU Dean Bob Gold to Gretchen Sutton, Lantern reporter (OSU campus newspaper). “Harrison Talgo has worked with and for the LBT Corporation…” The Lantern: Ohio State University, Telescope blurred by sacred land. Gretchen Sutton,  Feb. 10, 1997,

[64] San Carlos Apache Tribal Council Resolution No.90-68, July 10, 1990:

“…any permanent modification of the present form of this mountain constitutes a display of profound disrespect for a cherished feature of the Apache’s original homeland…’ 

[65] San Carlos Apache Tribal Council letter signed by all Tribal Council members to Regional Forester, Albuquerque, June 4, 1991:

“…We ask that you immediately cease all construction activities and that you meet with us or our designated representative.  A complete cultural assessment study under the National Historic Preservation Act and regulations must be commenced immediately.”

[66] San Carlos Apache Tribal Council letter signed by all Tribal Council members to Jutta Muller, German Parliament:

  “…We would hope that the German Government will continue to become more supportive of our efforts for the survival of crucial Apache traditions.  Moving the Max Planck Institute’s telescope from the sacred mountain of the traditional Apache is certainly a necessary step.”

[67] San Carlos Apache Tribal Council letter signed by all Tribal Council members to Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, Vatican City State:

 “…Advising us that the Church will continue to avoid halting such a blatant violation of the religious freedom of the traditional Apache is quite historically insulting and tragic.  Such actions by the Church are contrary to any moral or ethical standard.”

[68] Letter from Harrison Talgo, Chairman, San Carlos Apache Tribe to the Hon. Riccardo Canesi, Italian Parliament, October 24, 1994.

[69] Denver Post, “Star Wars,” Steve Lipsher, May 18, 1997:

“Talgo at one point opposed the observatory, but then took a job with the university as a construction supervisor at the site.  Now, he is a routine part of the Safford [town at foot of Mt. Graham] welcome wagon trotted out by the university’s public-relations firm endorsing the telescope.”

“Talgo explains in a low mumble that Mount Graham has been sacred to the tribe, but those days are over.  We don’t look back.” (emphasis added).

70 Aug. 31, 90 letter of protest by Tribal Chairman to USFS; June 4, 1991 entire Tribal Council (9-0) individually sign letter of protest to USFS; July 12, 1995 letter of Dale Miles, San Carlos Apache Tribe History Program Director to USFS protesting their continuing, longstanding failure to fulfil lawful NHPA cultural studies of Dzil Nchaa Si’an; Nov. 15, 1995 letter to Hon. Janet Reno by Tribal Vice-Chairman urging discipline to USFS officials who failed to comply with U.S. cultural and religious protection laws on Dzil Nchaa Si’an; Nov. 15, 1995 letter to Sen. McCain asking that U.S. cultural and religious protection laws be undertaken by Forest Service on Dzil Nchaa Si’an.

71 Record of Apache opposition to the desecration of Mt. Graham by the University of Arizona and their astronomer-collaborators, Mt. Graham Coalition, Box 15451, Phoenix, AZ 85060, Nov. 2001, donation $20.00.          3-02