20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 25, 1998 GET REAL EXPERIENCE AND HELP OTHERS, AmeriCorps*VISTA has thousands of positions available NOW. When you join AmeriCorps*VISTA, you’ll not only improve your resumeyou’ll improve the community you serve. As an AmeriCorps*VISTA member, you might help start a youth center, establish a job bank in a homeless shelter, set up a literacy project, or organize a domestic violence program, and the list goes on. In return, you’ll get a living and relocation allowance, health care, money for school, and the satisfaction of helping others. AmeriCorps*VISTA 800-220-6316 wvvw.americorps.org/now potential changes in the area’s tax structure. The day before an August Owners’ Association meeting, Paredes said he was “guardedly optimistic” that the owners would vote to deny miners access to existing Ranch roads. As it happened, during the ten hours of the meeting, mining issues came up only once in connection with the Ranch’s search for legal representation. During a break, members of the Association’s board of directors frankly dismissed the notion of interfering with the mining in any way. Baker conceded, “I don’t think there’s much we can do.” Brewster County Sheriff Richard Hill argued against the legal risks, declaring, “We don’t have a leg to stand on, and even if we did we don’t have the funds to defend ourselves if we got sued [by the mining companies or the lessors].” Association President Gerald Raun clearly did not relish the prospect, but he was unwilling to say anything directly against the mining. He concluded resignedly, “The Ranch is between a rock and a hard place on this one…. Individual land owners can take this to court, and if they win, good for them. But they’ve got their work cut out.” Each landowner made it clear that he had not leased his own land, but none seemed willing to interfere with the rights of another property owner. In any case, such considerations had been rendered moot by the legal opinion of an Austin law firm, Gilman, Nichols & Ballard. As summarized by Raun, Terlingua Ranch “is probably the only community association in the entire country that has no deed restrictions whatsoever.” According to attorney Holly Gilman, the lack of restrictions means that the Owners’ Association has no legal right to deny any property owner or the lessee of any property owner access to the roads that are communally held by the property owners, and any attempt to interfere with access to Ranch roads might invite a lawsuit, with the potential result of Brewster County seizing control of the roads. Not all of the lessors of proposed mining tracts are private landowners. Hard Rock Mining Company has leased mineral rights for humate mining from the state, through the General Land Office, on land owned by the state and the University of Texas Sys tern. According to the G.L.O. press office, neither agency has thus far requested Hard Rock Mining to seek permits or to work within environmental regulations. /n response, the Citizens’ Alliance has retained its own Austin lawyer, and announced its intention to sue if mining proceeded without regulation. All the companies holding mining leases have been notified, as have all the federal and state agencies with potential jurisdiction over the mining, including the E.P.A.’s Carol Browner and Governor George Bush. Richard Lowerre, the Alliance’s lawyer, argues that the proposed mining efforts do fall under the jurisdiction of numerous state and federal agencies. His letter lists potential violations of federal and state surface mining laws, as well as federal laws governing clean air, clean water, and endangered species, and says the Alliance would seek injunctions against any mining activities not officially permitted, within sixty days. The sixty-day deadline in fact passed in late August, but no mining activity has yet commenced. Lowerre told the Observer, “The
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