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    Settlement clears way for cross in Mojave Desert

    LOS ANGELES - A veterans group can restore a memorial cross in the Mojave Desert under a court settlement that ends a decade-old legal battle, the National Park Service said Tuesday.

    A federal judge approved the lawsuit settlement on Monday, permitting the park service to turn over a remote hilltop area known as Sunrise Rock to a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Barstow and the Veterans Home of California-Barstow.

    The park will give up the acre of land in exchange for 5 acres of donated property elsewhere in the 1.6-million-acre preserve in Southern California.


    The swap, which could be completed by the end of the year, will permit veterans to restore a cross to the site and end a controversy that became tangled in the thorny issues of patriotism and religion and made its way to the US Supreme Court in 2003.

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    The last cross was ordered removed by the park service in 2010 because of a court order.

    The donated land is owned by Henry and Wanda Sandoz of Yucca Valley.

    Henry Sandoz, 72, who has cared for crosses at the site for years, has a 7-foot replacement ready to go, said his wife.