Taos, N.M. (June 12, 2023)—In the following statement, Preservation Archaeologist and Chaco Scholar Paul F. Reed reaffirms our unwavering support for the administrative withdrawal that creates a protection zone around Chaco Culture National Historical Park:
“On Sunday, June 11, at approximately 10:00 a.m., local allottee protestors blocked the Chaco Culture National Historical Park access road (see image). This action was undertaken to prevent a celebration in Chaco of the US Department of the Interior’s withdrawal of FEDERAL lands from oil-gas and other mineral leasing in a 10-mile zone around Chaco for 20 years. The event was to feature Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Pueblo and other Indigenous leaders from across New Mexico. The celebration was moved to Albuquerque, to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
“As many of us have discussed on Facebook, other social media, and in the mainstream press, this withdrawal of Federal acreage from mineral development DOES NOT affect the rights of any other landholders in the checkerboard area around Chaco Canyon. Current and future leasing of lands by Navajo allottees or other landowners in this zone will NOT be affected by this administrative action by the Bureau of Land Management. In fact, this Federal administrative action will result in no changes in land management or development options, present or future, for any other landholders in the 10-mile zone.
“It is my personal belief that the opposition to this Federal action is a direct result of a misunderstanding of the nature of the Federal land withdrawal. Some media outlets across the Four Corners have, unfortunately, contributed to the poor understanding of this administrative action.
“We at Archaeology Southwest, together with our partners with the All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG), Pueblo of Acoma, and other Pueblo descendant communities, as well as our environmental partners, including the National Parks Conservation Association, the Wilderness Society, New Mexico Wild, PEW Charitable Trust, Conservation Lands Foundation, Environment America, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, and New Mexico Wildlife Federation, are thrilled that the 10-mile Federal mineral withdrawal around Chaco has been finalized and is in place for 20 years.”
The withdrawal will only impact federal surface and subsurface land. It will not impact Navajo and private land that is checkerboarded within the zone, so Tribal members who live in the area will still be able to freely use and develop their land.
Additionally, beyond the ten-mile zone around Chaco Culture National Historical Park there are much broader threats to cultural and natural resources and communities in northwestern New Mexico. Over the past few decades, BLM has leased over 90 percent of federal lands surrounding Chaco Canyon for drilling, and oil and gas companies have drilled more than 37,000 wells in the area and built a sprawling network of roads (15,000 miles) that’s five times greater than the distance from Los Angeles to New York.
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For Immediate Release
June 12, 2023
Teran A. Villa, Jemez (He/Him)
Executive Director, All Pueblo Council of Governors
Paul F. Reed