(October 21, 2016)—The Department of Interior has just announced that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Farmington Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will be partnering on an expanded analysis of oil & gas leasing and management on public and tribal lands in the Greater Chaco Landscape. Read the press release here. Read the notice on the Federal Register here.
This is excellent news!! A large part of our effort, together with our partners, has focused on encouraging the agencies to coordinate and combine their efforts to protect the ancient Chacoan landscape from the encroaching impacts of oil and gas development. Our primary effort has been directed at the Farmington BLM’s amendment process for their Resource Management Plan (RMP). The RMP was on track for release in draft form by summer 2017.
The news that BIA-Gallup will be working with BLM and evaluating proposed oil and gas development across public and tribal lands is welcomed. Our coalition has met with BIA representatives, and with Navajo Nation officials, several times. In addition, the National Park Service (NPS) and Chaco Cultural National Historic Park have been involved in this process, as a cooperating agency.
I’m hopeful that the active engagement of the federal agencies will improve the amendment process for the RMP. Outreach to the Navajo Nation chapters directly affected by the oil and gas development is a primary goal of the expanded process and we support that effort. We will continue to do outreach to the Native American tribes and pueblos concerning the protection of Chaco’s amazing legacy on the landscape.
Here are some official statements in support of this development:
Ellis Richard, Director, Park Rangers for our Lands
Michael Casaus, New Mexico Director, The Wilderness Society
Camilla Simon, Director, Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO)
Chris Sager, Director, Western Values Project