Archaeology Southwest reports that on Thursday, March 28, 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will sell certain oil and gas leases within the Greater Chaco Canyon area. They are asking concerned citizens to contact the BLM to protest this lease sale and will provide information on their website within the next several days explaining how to write an effective protest. In the meantime, some background:
At present, the BLM has deferred nine such oil and gas leases on parcels that fall within the 10-mile cultural protection zone around Chaco Canyon and one of its outlier sites. However, preservation archaeologists at Archaeology Southwest believe that this deferral may be only a temporary reprieve.
There are two primary concerns. Firstly, the BLM continues to conduct lease sales each quarter despite 91% of the Farmington BLM field office area having already been leased, and without the BLM having completed the required Resource Management Plan amendment and draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Secondly, according to the affected Native American Tribes and Pueblos the BLM has failed to consult with them in any meaningful way as federal law requires them to do. Archaeology Southwest recommends that all lease sales in the area be stopped, whether or not they encompass archaeological sites, and further proposes permanent protections for the Greater Chaco Landscape.
Please keep a close eye on Archaeology Southwest's website as information develops.