Factual Rebuttals to False Statements
By Mount Graham Astronomers

ASTRONOMERS’ FALSITY #1: Mt. Graham is not sacred to the Apache people.

FACT:   Extensive archival documents confirm its sacredness. The U. of Arizona (UofA) has known that for years. Previously UofA tried unsuccessfully to build on Arizona’s highest mtn. in Flagstaff, sacred to Navajo/Hopi. In 1988 they attached a last minute legislative rider onto an otherwise good piece of environmental legislation.   Congress passed this bill without public hearings attempting to exempt themselves from complying with U.S. environmental laws on Mt. Graham.


FALSITY #2:   Since 70% of San Carlos Apache are Christian, "we do not believe it should be possible for a small group of traditionalists to dictate the will of the majority." (distributed by Ohio State U. presidents.

FACT:   OSU comment here assaults America's Constitutional First Amendment right to Freedom of Religion.  Furthermore, the majority of the Apache participate in the Sunrise Dances, the Apache woman’s puberty ceremony. Here the Gaahn or Mountain Spirit Dancers, who live inside Mt. Graham, are present and bring the Apache worldview and ethos to the young woman.


FALSITY #3: The San Carlos Apache are divided.

FACT:   The San Carlos Medicine people, Spiritual Leaders and Elders have signed many opposition petitions. The Tribal Council has issued 7 unopposed proclamations, and one 1993 neutrality resolution. The neutrality was reversed 12 wks. later and rescinded. USFS and astronomers have ignored the objections of the neighboring White Mtn. Apache Tribe, other Apache, and the resolutions of the National Congress of Am. Indians.


FALSITY #4:   The Apaches were properly warned in advance by the astronomers.

FACT:  The Tribal Chairman in 1990 wrote the Forest Service: "The Tribe has never been contacted" about the project. "Since time immemorial Mt. G. has been a sacred mountain..." UofA contact consisted of one unconfirmed, general letter to the tribe. UA never consulted with the elders, council and medicine men as required by U.S. law.


FALSITY #5: The Apaches never protested prior to construction and clear-cutting the summit telescope sites.

FACT: Elders publicly protested as reported in both Tucson newspapers before the first tree was cut. The Tribal Council protested months before a single tree was cut on the summit.


FALSITY #6: Apache can’t protest telescopes since they didn’t criticize the mountain’s roads, cabins, microwave towers etc.

FACT: These 1920-1960’s developments occurred before modern laws (NEPA, NHPA, etc.) recognized Indians’ rights. Apaches became citizens in ‘24; couldn’t worship as Apaches until ‘34; vote until ‘48; eat in nearby restaurants (no dogs, no Apaches signs) until the ‘70’s. They lack the money to match the astronomers’ millions for lobbying stealth riders and lawsuits.


FALSITY #7 The Zuni, Ak-Chin and Hopi are neutral or have no objections to the project.

FACT:   No U.S. tribe or Indian rights group today supports or is neutral on this issue. In ‘93, & ‘95, all U.S. tribes at the Nat’l. Congress of American Indians voted to: "remove all telescopes from the mountain." In 1995 the Nat’l. Council of Churches, Racial Justice Group., (49 million Americans and 35 denominations) passed a similar resolution. The Unitarians did in 1997.


FALSITY #8: Mt. Graham was chosen because it is heavily developed with campgrounds, holiday cabins, 300,000 visitors, etc.

FACT: The virgin, spruce-fir summit was "Wilderness" eligible with no cabins, developments etc. In 1984 UA lobbied removal of Wilderness designation from Graham’s top 3500 acres. Graham’s 200,000 acres are 99% undeveloped. The 300,000 visitors camp directly along the mountain’s 50 miles of roads, not the virgin, undeveloped summit which the astronomers now destroy.


FALSITY #9: Graham is an outstanding astronomy site.

FACT: The National Optical Astronomy Observatories (the major U.S. universities) found 37 better U.S. sites, and Hawaii and Chile superior. They abandoned Graham citing poor visibility and heavy cloud cover. ‘92 UofA studies found UofA mistakenly lobbied Congress for the worst spot on Graham and that Arizona’s Mt. Hopkins’ was far superior.


FALSITY #10: The wholesale withdrawal of all U.S. universities from Graham was economic, not scientific, environmental or cultural.

FACT: Over 20 U.S. universities quit Graham after 1984-1987 NOAO studies revealed superior U.S., Hawaiian and Chilean sites. Graham’s heavy cloud cover, poor visibility ("seeing") from bad topography and dense forestation were cited. Harvard/Smithsonian, Pittsburgh, Michigan State and Toronto were highly concerned about the cultural, environmental and ethical aspects.


FALSITY #11: Graham’s summit forest is not unique.

FACT: The summit is N. America’s southernmost spruce-fir forest , a tiny, vulnerable 400-acre cradle of evolution. On this desert "island Galapagos" many plants and animals unique to the world evolved. Graham has more life zones than any single U.S. mtn.


FALSITY #12: Since construction began the endangered red squirrel numbers have more than doubled.

FACT: There are statistically no more squirrels today than in the first census: ‘86-348, ‘88-210, ‘89-146, ‘90-152, ‘91-272, ‘92-370, ‘93-262, ‘94-357, ‘95-283, ‘96-282, ‘97-366. AZ Sen. McCain coerced USFS to start construction in ‘89 during a severe food shortage. Recent state wildlife agency studies reveal squirrel census numbers exaggerated.


FALSITY #13: More squirrels have been found in lower altitude areas so it is O.K. to deforest the spruce-fir summit for scopes.

FACT: Red squirrels have become extinct on Arizona’s desert mountain "islands" lacking spruce-fir. The cooler, more moist spruce-fir prevents the squirrel’s underground food storage caches from drying out during warm weather cycles. Breeding densities are much higher in the spruce-fir summit forest. The hot, dry lower altitudes defy species long-term survival.


FALSITY #14: Astronomers are transplanting or planting new trees in larger acreages than their chainsaws and bulldozers destroy.

FACT: It requires 230-290 years to create the squirrel’s "downed log" old-growth "midden" habitat. The project destroys 27% of squirrel’s best habitat. Extinction well may occur while waiting 290 years for re-growth of suitable spruce-fir. Millions of times more trees reforest naturally, annually, than survive transplantation.


FALSITY #15: The project is on only 8.6 acres and there are 3950 acres of the squirrel’s "ecologically most valuable" habitat.

FACT: Govt. studies show only 472 acres of "best" habitat. The 3950 acres includes poorer, lower altitude habitat with far lower breeding densities. The 7-scope, 24-acre project Congress authorized destroys 129 acres -- 27% of the best spruce-fir habitat.


FALSITY #16: The annual traffic and visitations of the observatory will be smaller than historic summit forest usage.

FACT: . There will be a 1000-2000% increase over pre-astronomy usage. The 7-scope project employs 50-60+ full time, plus 8-10,000 astro-tourists. This omits the near-continuous construction, heavy machinery, snowblowers, blasting etc.


FALSITY #17: The 1988 and 1996 Kolbe riders did not really bypass U.S. cultural and environmental protection laws.

FACT: Astronomers’ lawyers argued in open court that they were exempt from all environmental and cultural laws (NEPA, NHPA, AIRFA, NFMA) by UofA’s 88 rider, even if it "was going to kill every squirrel." Cultural and environmental studies were never completed.


FALSITY #18: Since 4500 pages of data were written. This satisfies the requirements of U.S. environmental and cultural laws.

FACT: A 4500 page thesis does not guarantee a Ph.D. The ESA, NEPA, NHPA, NFMA, and AIRFA lawful studies were never lawfully performed or completed as shown by a later congressional investigation by the General Accounting Office (GAO).


FALSITY #19: In June 1990 a U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) oversight investigation saw no reason to stop the project.

FACT: In 1990 federal wildlife officials and GAO investigators testified to Congress that the FWS study was fraudulent. Congress then ordered a FWS review. The FWS recommended a lawful, new ESA study. President Bush ruled that the 1988 rider exempted the project from ESA and refused to allow a lawful ESA study to go forward.


FALSITY #20: The LBT telescope site illegally and secretly clear-cut Dec. 7, 1993 by UofA was less harmful to the squirrel.

FACT: It was more harmful. USFS said it increased the project footprint 40% and the forest clearing "edge effect" by 76%. USFS concealed the fact in every year both before and after the clear-cut it averaged more squirrels. USFS had never studied the entire eastern half of the illegal site.


FALSITY #21: Telescopes are better for squirrels and the tiny spruce-fir summit forest ecosystem than hikers and recreationists.

FACT: The full 7-scope project destroys 27% of the squirrel’s best 472 acres of habitat. Recreationists do not clear-cut forests and build roads. Telescope roads and clearings become death-traps for squirrels from avian and mammalian predators, and vehicles


FALSITY #22:The San Carlos Apache Tribe has never been party to any lawsuit against the project.

FACT: Correct, the elders and spiritual leaders filed the lawsuits. The secular body, the tribal council has passed many opposition resolutions and mailed letters to the U.S. govt., the German and Italian parliament and the Vatican protesting the project.

For info: Mt. Graham Coalition, Box 15451, Phoenix AZ 85060, 602 840-0052, fax 602 840-3001, or Washington D.C., 301 989-0880, SEAC-Southwest, P.O. Box 1891, Tucson AZ 85702, 520 903 0536, Apache Survival Coalition, Box 1237, San Carlos AZ 85550, 520 475 2543, Apaches For Cultural Preservation, Box 0766, San Carlos AZ 85550, 520 475 2494 mythfact.doc 10-17-98