Saving Chaco Canyon

Louise Hublitz, former Executive Committee Member of the Coconino County Democratic Party

More than three hundred feet above the floor of Chaco Canyon National Historic Park in New Mexico, the landscape radiates out in the 4 directions. It is a breathtaking site that still shows the signs of ancient roads carved into the hard earth hundreds of years ago leading to Chaco from other indigenous communities throughout the southwest.  The structures at Chaco, monumental in size containing hundreds of rooms, are the legacy of Hopi, Puebloan, Navajo and other people that were left behind centuries ago. It is the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and about as close as the US gets to “the pyramids of Egypt.”

Quarterly the Bureau of Land Management is requires to offer mineral rights leases on federal lands. Several plots surrounding Chaco are among those being offered this March 28th.The proposal of the gas and oil leases by the BLM could forever change the landscape and damage this impressive site as well as the area around Chaco that remains unexplored. Instead of looking out and seeing a vast quiet open space, we may see a scared landscape as well as smelling and hearing the results of exploration. This is the result of the Interior Departments decision to consider rescinding regulations which protect sensitive areas such those surrounding Chaco, seeing these regulations as “burdensome.”

It is critical to let your senator know how important the cultural legacy of Chaco is to our American history and to indigenous people. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich from New Mexico want to see a buffer zone created around Chaco and other heritage sites. Speak out now about the importance of maintaining a protective radius around these ancient ruins. Do this before the leases are made available on March 28th.  After that it could be forever changed.

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