Press Release May 29, 2019

Administration Announces Drilling Moratorium around Chaco Culture National Historical Park

David Bernhardt visits New Mexico, agrees to temporary protections while working on long-term solutions.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – This week, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, David Bernhardt agreed in principle to implement a yearlong drilling moratorium within 10 miles around Chaco Culture National Historical Park. This decision comes after David Bernhardt visited the park in response to an invitation from U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

While in the region, David Bernhardt met with tribal leaders and community representatives to hear concerns regarding oil and gas development, which has consumed much of the landscape neighboring the park. Community leaders have long called for these protections to the sacred landscapes, along with stronger regulations to safeguard the health of nearby citizens.

The announcement includes a commitment to work with the New Mexico delegation to develop new legislative protections for the park, consider the already introduced Chaco Cultural Heritage Protection Act and work on a Resource Management Plan to provide a ten-mile protection zone around Chaco.

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

“This latest announcement from the Secretary is welcome news for a region inundated with oil and gas development that threatens the ancestral cultural resources essential to the identity of local tribal communities and the health of nearby Navajo residents. But this stop-gap solution only temporarily halts leasing, underscoring the need for legislation to permanently protect Chaco Culture National Historical Park. We certainly hope Secretary Bernhardt will continue to take time to visit and appreciate more of our shared national park resources so that their surrounding landscapes may benefit from similar protections against harmful oil and gas 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