Protecting Antiquity at Chaco Culture
All Pueblo Council of Governors, New Mexico
The All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) represents the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico and the Pueblo of Ysleta del Sur in El Paso, Texas, all of which have ancestral ties to the Puebloan sites in the Four Corners region. A vocal opponent of oil and gas development near sacred sites in the Southwest, their efforts led to a historic collaboration with the Navajo Nation and, ultimately, to the deferral of oil and gas leases near Chaco in early 2018. In recognition of its powerful leadership, NPCA presented APCG with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Conservationist of the Year Award in 2019.
Chaco Culture National Historic Park is a unique landscape that tells the story of one of North America’s oldest and most sophisticated cultures. World-renowned for its dark skies, the park has been a World Heritage Site since 1987.
The landscape is sacred ancestral homeland to Pueblo Tribes and is rich in cultural and archeological sites, some still unexplored. Park visitors can tour the nine-mile park road and backcountry trails by day, and — after dark — the park’s night sky program offers the chance to view the stars from this sacred and special place.
Unfortunately, like many other places in the Southwest, the growing demand for oil and gas in northwestern New Mexico could have a great impact on the cultural and natural resources of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, including the quality of its night skies. Flaring of natural gas, an increase in intensive artificial lighting, vehicle traffic and operation of support facilities all threaten the integrity of the landscape and the health of nearby communities.
NPCA and our many local allies fervently support the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, which would prohibit future oil and gas development by the Bureau of Land Management within a 10-mile protection zone around the park. Withdrawing more than 300,000 acres from these extractive activities will preserve sacred sites of great significance to human history, help address some of the public health concerns of neighboring communities and tribes, and ensure the park’s exceptional resources are protected.