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Stricter Rules Sought for Indian Site Excavations

December 15, 1988

A local Indian group asked the Ventura County Board of Supervisors this week to adopt a more stringent plan for protecting ancient village sites and burial grounds from unplanned excavations.

Under the Candelaria American Indian Council's proposal, the county would map areas containing known burial sites and ancient villages. Excavations in sensitive areas would be monitored by archeologists, and any artifacts would be studied and reburied in a safe location at the property owner's expense.

Candelaria attorney Tom Malley had come before the board Tuesday to appeal a Ventura County Planning Commission decision that favored a Rincon Point property owner who uncovered the remains of a prehistoric Chumash in June while digging a trench for a back-yard fishpond without the required permit.

Property owner Don L. Carlton decided to abandon his project and was allowed to refill the trench--after he let archeologists study the site and remove the artifacts--without seeking the development permit he should have had before starting.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday December 22, 1988 Home Edition Ventura County Part 9 Page 3 Column 2 Zones Desk 1 inches; 21 words Type of Material: Correction
In an article Dec. 15, The Times gave the wrong name for the senior planner for the Candelaria American Indian Council. The planner is Bruce Stenslie.

The county's approval of Carlton's actions angered the American Indian group, which does not consider "putting the dirt back in the ditch" a proper restoration of the site, as required by state law, Malley said.

However, Malley said he would withdraw his appeal so the board could address the more comprehensive issue.

"We didn't want the particular argument over Carlton's land to obscure the larger policy question," explained Bruce Estes, a staff planner for the Indian organization.

This was the second time in 7 months that the Candelaria group has faced off with a government agency over "desecration" of American Indian burial grounds. The first case involved a Southern California Gas Co. project near Oxnard.

While the California Environmental Quality Act includes a similar requirement, that law is difficult to enforce because it is subject to interpretation by various local agencies, Candelaria staff planner Bruce Estes said.

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