(December 29, 2015)—The last two months have been very busy and productive as we continue our efforts to protect the fragile and irreplaceable Greater Chaco Landscape. We convened two Southwest regional public forums.
The first was held at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, outside Cortez, Colorado, on November 21. Our panel included Dale Davidson of the Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance; David Fraley, a private citizen in Cortez; Tim Menchengo, Cultural Resources Coordinator with the Pueblo of Santa Ana; Governor Fred Vallo of the Pueblo of Acoma; and me. We discussed issues related to preservation of the Greater Chaco and Mesa Verde landscape. Panel members were asked to identify the greatest threats to the landscape and to discuss the best ways to address these threats. Part of the discussion focused on the master leasing plans (“MLPs”) proposed for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) districts surrounding the national parks in both states. We had a good audience of about 40 people, who asked questions and offered a variety of opinions on the issues. The Cortez Journal reported on the event.
On December 5, we held another forum at the University of New Mexico Hibben Center. Our panel consisted of Ora Marek-Martinez, Navajo Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer; Tim Menchengo, Cultural Resources Coordinator with the Pueblo of Santa Ana; Governor Vallo of the Pueblo of Acoma; and me. This event drew a good crowd that asked substantive questions. The audience appreciated the opportunity to connect with the Native American panel members and hear viewpoints that have been missing from the larger discussion. In addition, with the focus solely on the Greater Chaco Landscape, we were able to delve into the issues more deeply. One question from New Mexico State Historic Preservation Officer Jeff Pappas led to a good, in-depth discussion of the master leasing plan alternative for the BLM Farmington Field Office area.
Our third forum was held in Washington, D.C., on December 16. Panelists included Governor Vallo, Pueblo of Acoma; Barbara Pahl of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Nick Lunds with the National Parks Conservation Association; and me. We took a different approach for this forum, first showing two short films (EcoFlight Overflight of Chaco Canyon and From Chaco Canyon to Chimney Rock: A Landscape Worth Protecting) that our partnership has produced regarding preserving the Greater Chaco Landscape. Panel members subsequently gave short presentations on their perspectives on protecting the Greater Chaco Landscape. The D.C. event drew a small but very interested audience who interacted closely with the presenters.