Haaland announces historic protections for Chaco landscape

Jun 2, 2023

Today, the Biden administration issued an executive order establishing a 20-year mineral withdrawal around New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon. The withdrawal will protect a 10-mile buffer surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, removing the threat of oil and gas drilling in one of America’s most archaeologically-rich areas.

“Thank you, President Biden and Secretary Haaland. Chaco Canyon is recognized as both a nationally and internationally significant landscape, and it deserves increased protection and respect,” said Jennifer Rokala, Executive Director at Center for Western Priorities.

The 351,00 acre withdrawal mirrors a legislative proposal supported by New Mexico’s congressional delegation, which has been pushing the Biden administration to take this action. It follows a two-year period in which the Interior Department studied the consequences of the withdrawal on energy production and held listening sessions to solicit feedback from Tribal leaders and members of the public. Almost 60 percent of New Mexicans say they support the creation of the 10-mile buffer zone, according to CWP’s 2022 Winning the West survey

“Today marks an important step in fulfilling President Biden’s commitments to Indian Country, by protecting Chaco Canyon, a sacred place that holds deep meaning for the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors have called this place home since time immemorial,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

BLM Restoration Landscapes: Birch Creek and Fortymile Wild & Scenic River

In celebration of the Bureau of Land Management’s $161 million investment in Western landscape restoration projects, Look West is highlighting a different “Restoration Landscape” each day for 21 days. Today’s landscape is Alaska’s Birch Creek and Fortymile Wild & Scenic River, which will receive $5 million for restoration. Located in eastern interior Alaska, these waterways contain significant cultural, recreational, historic, archaeological, geological, and wildlife features. The new funding will contribute to mining waste clean-up, restoration of salmon habitat, and improving land and water quality monitoring in order to ensure safe recreation access.

Quick hits

Haaland orders 20-year oil leasing ban around Chaco Canyon

New York Times | E&E News | Reuters | Albuquerque Journal | Associated Press

Arizona governor urges Biden to designate tribally proposed monument at Grand Canyon

Associated Press | KNAU

Report: Why conservation leasing on public lands is a win-win for renewables and wildlife

Center for American Progress

Arizona limits construction around Phoenix as its water supply dwindles

New York Times

A poisonous cold war legacy that defies a solution

New York Times

What hunters should know about the corner-crossing victory


A wet year promises a boost to both Colorado River Basin reservoirs and ecosystems

Colorado Sun

The tipping point of national parks

Deseret News

Quote of the day

Before the Manhattan Project, there was a handshake agreement that this area would be returned to the way it was. How can we agree to leave the poison in the land?”

Trina Sherwood, cultural specialist for Yakama Nation’s natural resources department, New York Times

Picture this

badger in dirt


Awake, but at what cost?
American badgers are typically nocturnal unless they’re in remote areas with little disturbance. In the spring, females will often forage during the day so they can spend evenings in the den with their young.

📸 Kimberly Emerson/USFWS

(featured image: Pueblo Del Arroyo at Chaco Canyon National Historic Park. Jasperdo, Flickr)