The growing demand for oil and gas in northwestern New Mexico has the potential to impact the cultural and natural resources of Chaco Culture National Historical Park--including the quality of its world-renowned night skies. Flaring of natural gas and an increase in intensive artificial lighting from construction activities, vehicle traffic and operation of support facilities can all affect the quality of the night skies both at the park’s higher elevations and inside the historic canyon.


Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves five Chacoan “great houses” where people from various clans congregated to trade goods, share ideas and celebrate events a thousand years ago. The structures…

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Planning for new oil and gas development on New Mexico Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park is currently underway. Since the planning area encompasses Chaco Culture National Historical Park and the Chaco Culture World Heritage Site, it is important that the BLM take a focused look at potential impacts to Chaco from new oil and gas development and provide a strong plan for ensuring the protection of the important cultural and natural resources in the area.

A Master Leasing Plan (MLP) would allow the BLM to accomplish this level of analysis and planning. MLPs are specifically designed to identify and resolve potential conflicts between oil and gas development and protected areas, including national park units. By engaging with adjacent land managers and stakeholders in an MLP, the BLM would ensure protection for the unique resources Congress identified for protection when it established the park, as well as provide clarity for developers of federal lands in the Chaco area.

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