Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act


Chaco Canyon and its surrounding landscape in northwest New Mexico hold remarkable examples of ancestral Pueblo ceremonial buildings, distinctive great houses, and an elaborate network of engineered roads. The Greater Chaco Landscape is a region of great cultural, spiritual, and historical significance to many Pueblos and Native American groups. Yet this incredible landscape—designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and included on the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2011—is threatened by encroaching oil, gas, and mineral development.

On May 3, 2023, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) reintroduced the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act (H.R. 3062 / S. 1404) to protect Chaco Canyon and the greater sacred landscape surrounding the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. This legislation aims to prevent future oil and gas development, as well as coal and uranium mining, on federal public lands within a roughly 10-mile radius of Chaco Culture National Historical Park. In 2022, the Biden administration moved forward with exploring a twenty-year moratorium on development of the 10-mile buffer zone. This legislation would provide permanent protections by banning oil, gas, and mineral development on federal lands in the Greater Chaco Region. A previous iteration of the legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019. This bill would codify a longstanding practice of avoiding new leasing on federal lands in these sensitive areas.

Contact your members of Congress today to urge support for this important legislation and protect these sacred lands for generations to come.

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