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Release Date: June 5, 2023
Media Contact: Emily Thompson

Last week, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland ordered a 20-year mineral withdrawal of public lands within a 10-mile radius of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park (NHP). This action will help to protect the cultural and historic resources surrounding Chaco Culture NHP from future oil and gas development.

Mike Murray, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, issued the following statement regarding the withdrawal:

“We applaud and thank the Biden administration and the Department of the Interior for their efforts to protect Chaco Culture NHP and the Greater Chaco Landscape. The withdrawal of federal public lands around Chaco Canyon from future oil and gas leasing for 20 years will help to protect Tribal communities, sacred sites, and cultural resources.

Chaco Culture NHP is the centerpiece of the Greater Chaco Landscape. It is a critical part of a living landscape of sacred sites and cultural resources, preserving the stories of the ancestral Puebloan people. Unfortunately, oil and gas drilling on the doorstep of this park threatened archaeological sites and had the potential to compromise the park’s incredible dark skies, adversely impact air quality, and place the region’s immense biodiversity at risk.

While this 20-year withdrawal is an important step towards ensuring the protection of irreplaceable stories and resources, we urge Congress to pass legislation to permanently protect the Greater Chaco Landscape’s communities, resources, and sacred sites for future generations.”

Last year, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks and Archaeology Southwest issued a report examining how oil and gas activities on surrounding lands has harmed and continues to threaten numerous national parks and monuments, including Chaco Culture NHP. The report highlighted the need to take action to permanently protect sensitive public lands around national parks and monuments.