80,000 urge protection for Chaco Canyon


On June 7, 2023, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a 20-year moratorium on drilling within a 10-mile “buffer zone” around Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Public Land Order No. 7923.

This article was originally published in 2022

These ruins have stood for more than 1,000 years, but they could soon see something entirely new: oil rigs.

The land around Chaco Canyon in New Mexico remains vulnerable to destructive oil and gas drilling. For wildlife as well as for people, the national historical park is a site of tremendous importance, providing a rare oasis of habitat as wildland across the Southwest has been converted into developments and grazing grounds.

To protect this unique site, Environment America joined a coalition to deliver more than 80,000 public comments to the Bureau of Land Management urging protections for Chaco Canyon.

“Protecting the Greater Chaco landscape is necessary to preserve the region’s rare species and ecosystems that are already under pressure from grazing and mineral and fossil fuel extraction,” said Ellen Montgomery, Public Lands Campaign director. “We urge the BLM to protect the Greater Chaco area by preventing future fossil fuel leases.”

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Photo: Ancestral Puebloan ruins at Chaco Canyon have stood for more than 1,000 years. Credit: GPA Photo Archive via Flickr, CC0



Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America

Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.