Government ready to make payments for Los Alamos land |

Government ready to make payments for Los Alamos land

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – The federal government is ready to begin making payments from a $10 million fund Congress set up to compensate Hispanic homesteaders who lost their land to a secret government project that grew into Los Alamos National Laboratory.Congress authorized the Pajarito Plateau Homesteaders Compensation Fund last fall. The National Nuclear Security Administration has now assigned people to handle claims and make payments from the fund, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Friday.”The homesteaders and their descendants now have an avenue for resolving their rightful complaints that they were not treated well when the federal government moved into the area,” he said.All but a handful of homesteaders have died since the World War II Manhattan Project that used their land on the Pajarito Plateau 60 years ago, but their heirs have battled the federal government for years.The government denied taking the land illegally, but acknowledged that Hispanic homesteaders were not paid as much for their property as others were and that they did not have legal representation.Los Alamos Ranch School, a prep school on the plateau, received $367,000 for its land – the bulk of $414,000 appropriated in the 1940s to buy property for the lab. The school received $225 per acre; Hispanic homesteaders got $7 to $15 an acre, Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said when the fund was approved.

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