Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site and International Dark Sky Park in northwestern New Mexico. The Greater Chaco landscape also encompasses an intricate network of ancient roads extending hundreds of miles across federal, state, tribal trust, private, and Navajo allotment lands. The Greater Chaco region houses the densest and most exceptional concentration of ancient pueblos in the American Southwest. More than 200 known Chacoan “great houses” are spread across New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah and are culturally bound to Chaco Canyon.
Today, the Greater Chaco region is home to contemporary Native American tribes, including the Diné (Navajo).
While ancient sites, kivas, and great houses inside the park’s boundaries are protected, the overwhelming majority of Greater Chaco lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are leased for oil and gas development, impacting the sacred landscape, air, people, and the living culture of the region. The remaining area of Greater Chaco, including the area within immediate vicinity of the park, is currently threatened by further oil and gas extraction.
Industrialized fracking development, which combines horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, already threatens ancient Chaco culture, sacred sites and the sacred landscape, and the living culture. Navajo residents living in the area have been dealing with the impacts of resource extraction for decades – even more oil and gas development is planned for the region. In fact, while updating their management plan, the BLM has approved more than 30 new drilling permits since February 2017.
Navajo communities in Counselor, Nageezi, and Lybrook experience disproportionate impacts as a result of oil and gas development in the Greater Chaco region. Without permanent protections for the region, the threat remains.
In response, indigenous leaders, environmental organizations, and elected officials have come together to demand stronger protections for community health, air and water, and the sacred landscape against industrialized fracking impacts.
Our Wild New Mexico Organizing Representative, Rio Grande Chapter