N.M. Delegation Welcomes Interior Decision on Chaco Mineral Withdrawal
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) released the following statement welcoming the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw federal minerals within the ChacoCulture Heritage Withdrawal Area from future mineral development, including new oil and gas leasing, for the next 20 years.
“Chaco Canyon and the Greater Chaco Region are a living cultural landscape with deep spiritual significance for Tribes and Pueblos. We applaud this historic step to protect Chaco’s irreplaceable resources for future generations. We remain committed to working alongside all of the Pueblos, Tribal Nations, and New Mexicans who have called for legislation that will ensure permanent protections for this landscape.”
The Chaco Withdrawal Area includes all non-Indian federal lands within a 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The New Mexico Delegation recently reintroduced the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act to provide permanent protections for the Chaco Withdrawal Area by withdrawing non-Indian federal lands from new mineral development in perpetuity.
Located in northwestern New Mexico, the Greater Chaco landscape is a region of great cultural, spiritual, and historical significance to many Pueblos and Tribes that contains living sacred sites. Chaco was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is one of only 24 such sites in the United States.