Pueblo leaders: Chaco is 'irreplaceable' - Albuquerque Journal

Pueblo leaders: Chaco is ‘irreplaceable’

Fajada Butte at Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The U.S. Interior Department has proposed a 20-year ban on new mineral leasing on 351,000 acres surrounding the park. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The U.S. Department of the Interior is consulting with tribes and pueblos this week to discuss potential changes to oil and gas leasing in the greater Chaco region of northwest New Mexico, pueblo leaders said Tuesday.

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing a 20-year ban of new mineral leasing on 351,000 acres of federal land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Acoma Pueblo Gov. Randall Vicente said the 10-mile buffer is necessary to protect pottery, petroglyphs and shrines from unchecked oil and gas development.

“Together, this area is one irreplaceable, sacred, interconnected landscape unlike any other,” Vicente said. “We remain tied to those resources, not only because they represent the footprints and fingerprints of our ancestors, (but also because) we rely on them on this day as Acoma people.”

The Chaco Heritage Tribal Association is using congressional funding for regional site and culture studies that will help inform land management decisions.

Important sites are being “desecrated,” said Ben Chavarria, Santa Clara Pueblo’s tribal historic preservation officer.

Chavarria spoke of pueblo staff who recently found a barbecue grill in a kiva pit during a field research survey at a Chacoan outlier site at Dalton Pass, along with tire treadmarks.

“There is no other way to describe this treatment than as shameful,” Chavarria said. “Once damaged, these sites cannot be rebuilt or replaced.”

The BLM and pueblo leaders have emphasized that a withdrawal would not affect any existing leases or new drilling on private land or allotted land for tribal members.

But the Navajo Nation Council has advocated for a smaller buffer zone.

Many of the Navajo lawmakers say that anything larger than a 5-mile radius could indirectly affect allottees.

Mark Mitchell, the All Pueblo Council of Governors chairman and a former Tesuque Pueblo governor, said that the 10-mile area was agreed upon years ago by pueblos, the Navajo Nation and other tribes.

“For at least the past decade, pueblos and other tribal nations throughout the Southwest have raised concerns about increasing oil and gas development on this sacred landscape, along with its associated negative health impacts,” Mitchell said.

The BLM will accept public comments on the proposal until May 6.

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.

Home » Business » Energy » Pueblo leaders: Chaco is ‘irreplaceable’

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Dogs and mail carriers really can get along: Here’s ...
ABQnews Seeker
Postal officials urge dog owners to ... Postal officials urge dog owners to take steps to protect carriers on their routes
Trump charged over classified documents in 1st federal indictment ...
ABQnews Seeker
MIAMI (AP) -- Donald Trump said ... MIAMI (AP) -- Donald Trump said Thursday that he has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate, igniting a ...
Security guard accused of stabbing resident at West Side ...
ABQnews Seeker
The man alleges he was staying ... The man alleges he was staying at the Westside Emergency Housing Center when he was stabbed three times by a contracted employee.
New Mexico rolls out education campaign for recreational marijuana ...
ABQnews Seeker
The first batch of billboards is ... The first batch of billboards is now going up around the state while TV, radio, print and digital advertisements will be running through the ...
In the green: Restaurant inspections for May 27 - ...
ABQnews Seeker
Every restaurant was in the green ... Every restaurant was in the green in the May 27-May 21 restaurant inspections, including Smith's on Eubank.
State judge upholds NM secretary of state's authority to ...
ABQnews Seeker
A state judge on Thursday rejected ... A state judge on Thursday rejected a challenge to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver's authority to determine whether New Mexico laws targeted for ...
Northbound I-25 closed at Jefferson after person fatally struck
ABQnews Seeker
Northbound Interstate 25 was shut down ... Northbound Interstate 25 was shut down at Jefferson Thursday afternoon after a driver fatally struck a person on the highway.
Crews work to extinguish fire in the Sandias
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque residents may see some smoke ... Albuquerque residents may see some smoke on the westside of the Sandias as crews work to extinguish a fire in the Upper Bear Canyon ...
Colorado's most destructive wildfire caused by embers from old ...
ABQnews Seeker
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Embers from ... BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Embers from a smoldering scrap wood fire set days earlier outside a home used by a Christian religious communal group ...