Taos, N.M. (January 5, 2022)—This morning, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took important steps toward permanently protecting the cultural landscape within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park when the agency formally proposed to withdraw approximately 351,000 acres of public lands surrounding the Park. This builds on years of work by Pueblos, Tribes, advocates, and elected officials, and follows President Biden’s announcement on November 15 of “new efforts to protect the Chaco Canyon and the greater connected landscape, and to ensure that public land management better reflects the sacred sites, stories, and cultural resources in the region,” according to the BLM’s press release. The proposed withdrawal would bar new federal oil and gas leasing on those lands, but would not affect existing valid leases or rights.
In addition, the BLM has initiated a 90-day public comment period, announced several public meetings, and is set to undertake formal Tribal consultation. Moreover, “the BLM and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) will also be initiating a broader assessment of the Greater Chaco cultural landscape to explore ways the Interior Department can manage existing energy development, honor sensitive areas important to Tribes and communities, and build collaborative management frameworks toward a sustainable economic future for the region.”
In response, Paul F. Reed, Preservation Archaeologist and Chaco Scholar at Archaeology Southwest, released the following statement:
“I am excited today to see that the Bureau of Land Management formally proposed to withdraw approximately 351,000 acres of public lands surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and plans to undertake a comprehensive landscape assessment of oil and gas development in the region. The BLM’s proposal will dramatically reduce the threat that drilling poses to this one-of-a-kind place, and it will help better protect the irreplaceable historic and cultural resources found in the region. Leaders from New Mexico’s Pueblos have been calling for the federal government to take this step for years, and I commend Secretary Haaland and the Biden administration for honoring their requests.”
About Archaeology Southwest
Archaeology Southwest is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, that explores and protects heritage places while honoring their diverse values. For three decades, Archaeology Southwest has worked to break down barriers to understanding, respecting, celebrating, and finding inspiration in these places. Learn more at archaeologysouthwest.org.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2022
Press Contact: Paul F. Reed
Image: Drill Pad with Pierre’s site in the background.