Environment New Mexico joins coalition to deliver 80,000 public comments in support of protecting Chaco Canyon

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Environment New Mexico joined conservation groups and advocates to deliver more than 83,000 public comments to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Friday in support of the agency’s proposed mineral withdrawal for the federal lands within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The withdrawal would prevent new federal oil and gas leasing for the next 20 years. The area affected is roughly 350,000 acres surrounding the park, which contain thousands of archaeological and cultural sites.

“The Greater Chaco landscape is a critical part of our collective cultural, historical and biological heritage. Protecting the Greater Chaco 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 with Environment New Mexico. “Drilling disturbs the habitats of the elk, bobcats, rabbits, porcupines, badgers, wild horses and more than 100 bird species that live in and around the canyon. Not only that, but extracting fossil fuels from beneath the land impacts the health of the people who live there by creating disruptive noise, and bringing in people and equipment that pollute the air, land and water. We urge the BLM to protect the Greater Chaco area by preventing future fossil fuel leases.”

Over the years, reckless drilling has caused significant harm to the health of local and Indigenous communities, air quality, and cultural values in the landscape surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Oil and gas wells, roads, pipelines, and other infrastructure have destroyed significant cultural sites and transformed others into industrial parks.