Entire New Mexico delegation supports protecting Greater Chaco region, again

May 5, 2023

Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation reintroduced the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, the most recent development in an ongoing push to protect the Chaco Culture National Historic Park from oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Since 2019, Congress has prohibited new leasing on federal lands within the proposed withdrawal area, and the New Mexico State Land Commissioner has banned leasing on state lands within the proposed withdrawal area. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of the Interior continues to consider a 20-year mineral withdrawal within a 10-mile zone around the park.

The legislation would prevent future leasing and expanded development of oil and gas on more than 339,000 acres of federal public lands within a 10-mile buffer zone around the park, protecting a region that remains integral to the ongoing cultural practices of several Pueblos and Tribes. The land that is being considered for withdrawal does not include any private lands or allotments. Centuries ago, the park was the center of a thriving civilization that flourished in the Four Corners region, and is now a designated World Heritage Site.

“Protecting the Greater Chaco Landscape is critical to preserving its irreplaceable historic significance and rare ecosystems, which are already under pressure from grazing and mineral and fossil fuel extraction,” said Keegan King, executive director of the Native Land Institute. “As such, we urge Congress to pass the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act and uphold the right of Indigenous peoples to both protect and develop their ancestral lands.”

Montana congressman, governor keep trying to defund popular conservation and access programs

Despite the tremendous bipartisan popularity of outdoor recreation, access, and conservation in Montana, Congressman Matt Rosendale has introduced four bills that propose to defund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. As Center for Western Priorities Policy Director Rachael Hamby writes in a new blog postthis is not the first time Rosendale has supported a bill that is both unpopular with Montanans and unlikely to become law, nor is Rosendale the only Montana lawmaker to publicly praise conservation only to turn around and take anti-conservation actions once in office.

Quick hits

New Mexico delegation renews push for broader protection at Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Associated Press | Source NM

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Navajo Nation officials, activists feel cut out as company advances uranium mining plans

NM Political Report

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USDA pushes for more grassland conservation in the Mountain West


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Quote of the day

”What if somebody says, ‘Well, you can make $5 billion over 20 years if you do get involved in new uranium mining.’ Would that cover the total cost of fixing what was contaminated in the past?”

—Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren, NM Political Report

Picture this

blue bird in tree

This Steller’s jay does not approve of feeding wildlife. Feeding wildlife is a bad idea. It can lead to conflict (injury or death), is not part of a healthy wildlife diet, and might expose them (or your furry family members) to disease or parasites.

Adrian Medellin/USFWS

(featured image: Chaco Culture National Historical Park sign and Fajada Butte. Photo: Brendakochevar via Wikimedia Commons)