Ranch owner: Burial discovery should halt new Skywalk road

KINGMAN - A Mohave County businessman is using the discovery of a burial site near the new Diamond Bar Road to push the federal government for a new environmental impact study of the area - a study that would delay the construction project and possibly push it into the next year, costing the Hualapai Tribe not only time, but money.

Road construction workers uncovered the burial site Tuesday morning. Scientists are studying the site to determine if the remains belong to a Native American.

The last environmental impact study on the project was completed in 2002.

"It is time to temporarily stop this destruction, as I have asked now for weeks," said Grand Canyon Ranch owner Nigel Turner, who has been feuding with the tribe over the road. "Are we going to destroy another 13,000 ancient Joshua trees, more burial sites and prehistoric cooking pits and more of this historic ranch rather than do it right?

"All this can be prevented by stopping construction through this complex area now, doing careful planning as per our 2007 agreement and conducting a new, comprehensive EIS."

Diamond Bar Road currently crosses part of Turner's property. The road is the shortest route to the Skywalk from Las Vegas. The Hualapai Tribe contracted with Fann Construction earlier this year to build a new section of road that will straighten out some of the dangerous curves in the current road and bypass Turner's property.

Turner has objected to the plans for the new road, saying they don't follow the requirements set down in a 2007 settlement agreement between him, the federal government and Mohave County. He asked the federal court in May to enforce 2007 agreement.

Turner said he is concerned that the new dirt road does not have sufficient drainage to handle the summer monsoon storms. He wants to halt all work on that section of road for at least 30 days so the area can be reassessed.

The U.S. government disagrees with Turner.

U.S. Attorney Peter Lantka told U.S. District Judge Neil Wake on June 14 that the road plans include culverts to divert floodwaters. All of the other requests Turner has made, including underpasses for animals and turn lanes for the ranch, are included as well, he said.

Peter Sorensen, Turner's attorney, told Wake the area surrounding Diamond Bar Road has changed in the last 11 years. He pointed out that the culverts appear to divert water directly onto a bank of electric generators and the ranch headquarters. Turner has added buildings and other amenities to Grand Canyon Ranch since the 2007 agreement was signed.

Halting the project now could prevent Fann Construction from finishing the road on time, which would increase the cost of the project, Lantka said.