JEMEZ PUEBLO, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department says a Native American community in northern New Mexico doesn’t have any claims to Valles Caldera National Preserve due to a 12-year statute of limitations on tribal land claims.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department said in a motion filed this month in federal court Jemez Pueblo abandoned any title it may have held to parts of the preserve.

Located in northern New Mexico, the Valles Caldera National Preserve is frequented by a number of tribes including the Jemez Pueblo and Navajo.
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The motion is the latest step in a legal battle over tens of thousands of pristine acres in the Jemez Mountains.

Jemez Pueblo considers the nearly 140-square-mile swath of federally-managed public land as a spiritual sanctuary.

The lawsuit is in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephan Vidmar, who has scheduled a status conference on the case March 9.