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Bill for ‘NavaMill’ deferred due to concerns

WINDOW ROCK

On Tuesday, NavaMill Lumber and Logging Company went before the Budget and Finance Committee to request a total of $18 million for the design, planning and construction of its’ business in Sawmill, Arizona.

If the legislation (No. 0109-22) is approved, the funds will be allocated from the Sihasin Fund.

NavaMill is a Navajo-owned business located in Sawmill.

Currently, a land withdrawal of 18 acres in Sawmill has been approved for commercial and industrial development purposes.

The project will consist of logging activities and processing of timber for sale to customers with construction needs. The company will also process timber into wood pellets to sell for indoor heating.

In the bill, the company states that the project will result in the hiring of approximately 100 temporary and 30 permanent employees.

The bill’s documents also state the company and the project have the approval of Sawmill Chapter and the Navajo Nation’s Forestry Department.

However, within the documents there are six opposing comments, five from the Sawmill area.

The comments mentioned concerns of the project being similar to Navajo Forest Products Industry, which was located in Navajo, New Mexico, and which has caused harm to the surrounding environment.

“Furthermore, the NFPI never got cleaned up and the buildings are still there with asbestos,” Kimberly Arviso, a member of the St. Michaels Chapter, said.

The letters of support by the Sawmill Chapter were dated in 2018 and 2021.

One Sawmill resident, Beverly Gorman, said in her opposing comment that the company had not communicated with the chapter as of July 4, 2022.

“We, the community of Sawmill/White Clay, have voted against the continued use of this lease on June 15, 2022, please consider and respect our vote,” Gorman said.

The bill was deferred to the Naabik’íyáti Committee for a work session due to unanswered questions and concerns.

The legislation and comments can be viewed at dibb.nnols.org


About The Author

Hannah John

Hannah John is from Coyote Canyon, N.M. She is Bit’ah’nii (Within His Cover), born for Honágháahnii (One Who Walks Around), maternal grandfather is Tábaahí (Water Edge) and paternal grandfather is Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water). She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s in communications and a minor in Native American studies. She recently worked with the Daily Lobo and the Rio Grande Sun.

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