TBOSC Position Statement on “Remediation” of the “A-Mountain Landfill”

Published: March 27, 2024

Versión en Español Aquí


The Tucson Birthplace Open Space Coalition (TBOSC), composed of barrio residents, tribal members, historians, archeologists, scientists, environmentalists, artists, neighbors, organizations and concerned Tucsonans city-wide, takes the following position on the question of “remediation” of the “A-Mountain Landfill” (1952-1963) at the Tucson birthplace site, located between the Santa Cruz River and Chukshon / S-cu:k Ṣoñ / Sentinel Peak / ‘A’ Mountain.


As a coalition we know this site to currently be a home to birds, bobcats, reptiles, coyotes, deer, javelina, medicinal plant species and more. We recognize this is the only remaining corridor in the urban core connecting the living Santa Cruz River to the Tucson Mountains and beyond. Unique bio-cultural knowledge and traditional ceremonial gatherings are held here, as well as an opportunity for positive urban climate action. There are already significant projects underway to help heal the river corridor and its riparian habitat. Furthermore, we must not forget and forfeit the significant historical and pre-historical value of this unique area, foundational to this region’s character, nor its continuing cultural importance to the Tohono O’odham. It is for these reasons and others that this site must remain open space in perpetuity, for all generations to come.


We understand that much damage has been done to this site in the form of quarries, landfills and decades of neglect, causing negative impacts to the surrounding neighbors for generations. 


We also know that the existing landfill, closed now for over 60 years and monitored for at least a quarter century, has not caused any significant groundwater contamination nor off-site methane migration, and has not exhibited any toxic or hazardous risk to humans. While the landfill makes the site unfit for new large-scale construction, the creosote, mesquites, native grasses, and thriving fauna, teach us that the land is indeed fit for use by plants and animals as habitat.


As a coalition we believe in the land’s healing, and we work to help heal our city’s relationship to this site. There is a role for all of us to play in this healing, and this is best done through Tohono O’odham- and neighbor-led decision making, community leadership and reconciliatory reclamation practices, informed by further environmental study of the site. 


We believe that non-invasive in-situ remediation options should be explored as preferred alternatives for the community to consider, rather than unjustified exhumation of the landfill through invasive dig-and-dump “remediation,” which involves huge costs, carbon emissions, sound and dust pollution, ultimately causing more landfilling at Los Reales and extensive excavation for “clean fill” elsewhere in the Tucson basin. 


For these reasons and many more, we take the position that dig-and-dump “remediation” is not only not needed for the birthplace site, but actually irreparably harmful to both the site and surrounding environment––especially if such remediation is financed by business entities looking to privatize and destroy what remains of Tucson’s birthplace through subsequent development. 


TBOSC seeks to ensure the ability of all interested parties to join in a cooperative effort to protect the health, history, and beauty of the land at the base of Chukshon / S-cu:k Ṣoñ / Sentinel Peak. It is time to honor the past by doing right by this land, beginning right now.


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