Chaco Canyon Protections Benefit Wildlife, Tribal Nations, All Americans

WASINGTON, D.C. — The Biden Administration’s decision to prohibit oil and gas leasing in a 10-mile buffer around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park is victory for wildlife, Tribal nations, local communities, and all Americans who value these sacred lands. 

“President Biden and Secretary Haaland’s decision to protect Chaco Canyon is a testament to the incredible perseverance of Indigenous leaders, who have sought to protect these sacred lands. The twenty-year withdrawal will ensure important wildlife habitat, clean air and water for local communities, and more than 2,400 archaeological sites will be safeguarded for future generations,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “By listening to the Indigenous leaders, President Biden and Secretary Haaland’s action—with the strong support of Senator Martin Heinrich, Chairman Raúl Grijalva, Senator Ben Ray Luján, and Rep. Theresa Leger Fernandez— ensures that this national treasure will be preserved for generations to come.” 

“The New Mexico Wildlife Federation wholeheartedly supports President Biden and Secretary Haaland’s decision to protect public lands surrounding Chaco Canyon. This area is home to some of our country’s oldest and most well-preserved ancient dwellings and artifacts that document the history of this once-thriving gathering place, which continues to have deep cultural significance," said Jesse Deubel, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. "We thank the Biden administration for taking action to ensure the long-term protection of this irreplaceable landscape.” 

“Protecting the lands around Chaco Canyon from oil and gas development will safeguard the network of ancient roads, villages, and shrines that surround Chaco Culture National Historical Park and will ensure clean air and water for local communities,” said Camilla Simon, executive director of HECHO (Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors). “We are also pleased to see the administration’s commitment to Tribal consultation in determining the best path forward for landscape-scale conservation near this remarkable treasure from the ancient world.”

The president’s executive order will prevent oil and gas leasing and other development within ten miles of Chaco Canyon, one of the largest excavated sites in North America. The ancient shrines and villages in Chaco give glimpses of the robust culture of the ancestral Puebloans, who lived in the area from 850-1250 A.D. 


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