On January 5, 2022, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, through the Bureau of Land Management, formally proposed to withdraw about 351,000 acres of public lands surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park from oil and gas development. This proposal furthers the Biden Administration’s efforts to protect Chaco Canyon and the greater connected landscape from oil/gas extraction and industrialized fracking, and to ensure that public land management takes into better consideration the region’s sacred sites, stories, and cultural resources.
The proposed withdrawal of federal lands within a 10-mile radius around Chaco Culture National Historical Park would bar new federal oil and gas leasing on those lands. It would not affect existing valid leases or rights and would not apply to minerals owned by private, state, or Tribal entities.
This proposal builds on years of efforts by many organizations and individuals - including the GCAS - to protect the greater Chaco Canyon area. In September 2020 the GCAS submitted a comment to the BLM’s draft Environmental Impact Statement that supported the creation of a 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco Canyon, and greater inclusion of the affected Tribes and Pueblos in the decision making process. Subsequently Congress instituted a one-year pause on new federal oil and gas leasing within a 10-mile radius of the park, and appropriated funding for ethnographic studies in the surrounding region to better support the current withdrawal process.
It’s time for GCAS members to act again.
The GCAS will submit a new comment on behalf of the GCAS as a group supporting Secretary Haaland's proposed withdrawal, but it helps to submit your own comment as an interested individual. It can be as long or as short as you like.
When To Comment: THE PERIOD FOR PUBLIC COMMENT ENDS ON MAY 6, 2022.
How To Comment: Submit written comments by any of the following methods. USE THIS REFERENCE EXACTLY AS IT IS WRITTEN: COMMENT FOR 2021-28525 NOTICE OF PROPOSED WITHDRAWAL - CHACO:
- ePlanning: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2016892/510;
- Email: email@example.com;
- You can also submit an email reply via Archaeology Southwest, here: https://protectchaco.org/?ms=this-month_email&utm_source=aswemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=this-month&emci=e4354ba7-33b4-ec11-997e-281878b83d8a&emdi=a94e44e4-4db4-ec11-997e-281878b83d8a&ceid=10244
- Standard Mail: Bureau of Land Management, Farmington Field Office, Attn: Sarah Scott, 6251 College Blvd., Suite A, Farmington, NM 87402. All comments must be post marked by May 6, 2022.
In addition to written comments, two public meetings are scheduled to receive oral comments. The BLM invites the public to register and participate in one of the following sessions:
- Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 2–7 p.m. in Farmington, NM - San Juan College Henderson Fine Arts Center
- Friday, April 29, 2022, 8 a.m. – noon in Albuquerque, NM - National Indian Programs Training Center
All in-person attendees must pre-register. Details are here: https://www.blm.gov/press-release/blm-extends-comment-period-announces-additional-meetings-proposed-mineral-withdrawal. Also contact BLM Project Manager Sarah Scott at 505-564-7689 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
What To Say: Use your own words to describe your unique connection to the Greater Chaco Landscape, but feel free to use some of the ideas below, or refer to one of Archaeology Southwest’s pages as a guide.
The GCAS supports Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s proposed withdrawal of federal lands within the Greater Chaco Landscape from oil/gas development. The withdrawal is necessary to protect the area’s irreplaceable cultural, historic, and archaeological resources.
The GCAS's mission is to preserve and protect prehistoric, historic, and culturally significant places and objects through educational programs and charitable activities. Chaco Canyon National Historic Park, and the Greater Chaco Landscape/Region that surrounds it, is one such place. Some of our group’s own members have explored the area and work to educate others on its significance and why it needs protection.
The Greater Chaco Landscape/Region, including the proposed withdrawal area, is one of the richest cultural areas in the United States. Chaco Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is part of the sacred ancestral homelands of many tribes throughout the Southwest. The entire area is a critical part of these tribes’ ongoing identity and cultural practices. It is a living cultural landscape that holds thousands of ancient structures, archaeological sites, and other cultural resources. A vast number of these sites are known to contain or are likely to contain ancestral human remains. All these sites reflect many and varied precursor cultures to the pueblos and tribes. Other sites have yet to be documented. Secretary Haaland’s proposed withdrawal is the only option that provides any realistic protection of these scientifically valuable and culturally sensitive sites, and is fundamental to our support for making the proposed withdrawal permanent.
Chaco Canyon National Historic Park is an International Dark Sky designation, and the 10-mile proposed withdrawal area that surrounds it contains a great deal of the Park’s viewshed. These values must be protected from the degradation caused by oil, gas, or mineral extraction.
Thank you for supporting the Greater Chaco Landscape!