Press Release Apr 9, 2019

New Mexico Delegation Repeats Call for Protection from Oil and Gas Development Around Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Senators Heinrich and Udall, along with Representatives Lujan, Haaland, and Torres Small introduce legislation to withdraw lands considered for oil and gas development near New Mexico park 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – This week, New Mexico’s congressional delegation reintroduced legislation establishing formal protections around Chaco Culture National Historical Park, recognizing the connectivity and importance of cultural resources that lie outside of park boundaries.

Last year, the New Mexico delegation introduced similar legislation to prevent mineral extraction on lands near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. This legislation builds on last year’s by again calling for protections on all lands within ten miles of the New Mexico park. However, the latest version of the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act includes additional provisions acknowledging the need for further studies and measures to protect public health and welfare, along with defining the area encompassed by the greater Chaco region outside of the boundaries of the park. Bill language also includes the termination of leases for lands not currently producing oil and gas resources.

Statement by Ernie Atencio, Southwest Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association

“National Parks Conservation Association commends Senator Udall and the entire delegation for introducing legislation that provides commonsense protections for Chaco Culture National Historical Park. It’s no secret that the oil and gas industry is targeting lands surrounding the national park that are rich in cultural and natural resources, and ignoring concerns from local Pueblo and Navajo tribes, along with the greater coalition of conservation voices.

This legislation rightly places the interests of the public above that of private industry, who are more focused on the revenues generated from short-term mineral extractions than the health of those living nearby. The legislation recognizes the need for additional studies and protective measures to address health, safety and environmental concerns, while calling for an end to the oil and gas industry’s unprecedented land grab by returning non-producing lands back to the public where they belong.

We are grateful that New Mexico’s entire delegation has considered the long-standing concerns from local tribal communities and conservation groups, recognized the importance of cultural resources that reside throughout the region and are working to prevent our cultural legacy from becoming an island within a sea of development.”


About National Parks Conservation Association: For 100 years, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit

Read more from NPCA