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.

Valles_Caldera,_New_Mexico_(7261895144)
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.

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