Press Release Nov 17, 2022

Parks Group Welcomes Legislation To Permanently Protect Greater Chaco From Oil And Gas Leasing

Bill reintroduced into Congress today would prevent new oil and gas leasing on federal land within 10-miles of Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Taos, NM – Senators Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich, and Congresswomen Teresa Leger Fernández and Melanie Stansbury today reintroduced a bill to prevent future mineral leasing on federally owned lands around Chaco Canyon.

The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act would permanently protect federal land from within a 10-mile radius around Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The Act would not affect land within the radius that is owned by Tribes, individuals or the State of New Mexico.

This month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began a public comment period on a proposal to withdraw federal oil and gas leasing for the next 20 years within this 10-mile zone. Over 80,000 comments were submitted to the BLM earlier this year in support of this measure.

Statement by Ernie Atencio, southwest regional director at the National Parks Conservation Association:

“The cultural importance of the Greater Chaco landscape expands far beyond the existing boundaries of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and we welcome this bill that would finally permanently protect this region from the dangers of oil and gas.

"The Greater Chaco landscape was the center of a sophisticated Puebloan civilization hundreds of years before Europeans first set foot on this continent. The historical and cultural importance of this living landscape must be protected.

"We commend the members of the New Mexico delegation for their leadership in championing this important legislation that NPCA with many Indigenous leaders and environmental groups has long advocated for. Now is the time to permanently protect the Greater Chaco cultural landscape, and we urge Congress to advance this important bill to permanently preserve this region from the dangers of oil and gas leasing.”


About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 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

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