First stop: Endangered campground
Our first stop on the 2015 “Livin’ in The Epic Van” tour is Oak Flat Campground, a popular camping and rock climbing spot.
It’s a lovely, primitive spot, where we parked under a beautiful oak tree and started to settle in.
The campground is part of several hundred acres of land considered sacred by Apaches that Congress voted to give to a private copper-mining company. The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act gives 2,400 acres to Resolution Copper, which plans to extract ore from 7,000 feet below ground. The company plans to blast the ore underground before extracting it, a method opposed by environmentalists, and which will cause subsidence and damage on the surface.
We hiked the surrounding hills, finding wildlife tracks and beautiful vistas.
Shortly after we camped, more than 300 Native Americans gathered to protest the transfer of hundreds of acres of ceremonial land to those who would dig a mile-wide hole in the ground in a search for copper.
Read more about the controversy in the Phoenix New Times here.