Press Release May 23, 2018

New Mexico Senators Introduce Legislation to Protect Greater Chaco Area from Oil and Gas Development

The bill would protect Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Chacoan ruins, and the landscape and sites that surround Chaco Canyon

TAOS, NM – This week, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced legislation to withdraw lands around Chaco Canyon from further oil and gas development by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), protecting the Chacoan ruins and the larger landscape and sites that surround Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

The bill would remove 316,076 acres of oil, natural gas, coal and other minerals from the 909,000 acres of the Proposed Chaco Protection Zone, excluding minerals owned by private, state and tribal entities. This comes shortly after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke deferred an oil and gas lease sale over concerns about the impact of energy development on the area.

Statement by Ernie Atencio, New Mexico Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association

“We thank Senators Udall and Heinrich for taking the important step of making permanent these protections for the Greater Chaco Landscape. National Parks Conservation Association, area tribes and other conservation groups have long advocated for protections to Chaco Culture National Historical Park and the surrounding cultural landscape to limit impacts from oil and gas development.

“Chaco Culture National Historic Park is a unique landscape that tells the story of one of North America’s oldest cultures, and we will not allow our cultural legacy to become an island in a sea of development. This landscape is sacred ancestral homeland to the Pueblos, and Navajo communities currently living in that landscape continue to feel the negative impacts of oil and gas development, without access to the economic benefits such development brings.

“We are grateful that Senators Udall and Heinrich have taken these concerns from local groups seriously with the introduction of this legislation and are optimistic that we can all find common ground in protecting this sacred area.”

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