New Mexico leaders introduce legislation to protect public lands surrounding Chaco Canyon

Media Contacts

Albuquerque, NM – The entire New Mexico delegation – Senators Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich and Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández, Melanie Stansbury, and Gabe Vasquez – have reintroduced the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act. The legislation will permanently protect federal lands within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park from new oil and gas leasing. Originally introduced and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019, the proposed legislation would ensure the permanent protection of roughly 339,000 acres of public lands surrounding the park. 

This reintroduction comes as the Biden administration is preparing to decide whether or not to finalize its proposed 20-year administrative mineral withdrawal. The Burea of Land Management received over 80,000 public comments in support of the 10-mile withdrawal of federal lands and minerals surrounding Chaco Canyon from future oil and gas leasing.

In response, Ellen Montgomery, Public Lands Campaign director, issued the following statement:

“Thanks to our New Mexico leaders for stepping up to protect the Greater Chaco landscape. We urge Congress to pass this bill and permanently protect the habitats of the elk, bobcats, rabbits, porcupines, badgers, wild horses and more than 100 bird species that live in and around the canyon. Chaco Canyon is a national treasure and we should protect as much of the area as possible for future generations.”