Chaco Canyon is both a world-class cultural resource, and a place of intense importance to New Mexico's Native communities. Today, I was proud to move the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protect Act, a bill I introduced with Senator Tom Udall, forward in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Our bill, which is supported by Navajo Nation, All Pueblo Council of Governors, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, the Wilderness Society, and Southwest Native Cultures, would ensure the protection of Chaco ruins and the greater landscape surrounding the Chaco Culture National Historical Park by preventing any future leasing or development of minerals owned by the U.S. government that are located within a protected radius around Chaco.
The Greater Chaco landscape is incredibly complicated, with state, private, tribal, and individually allotted lands checker-boarded around invaluable cultural resources. For a number of years now, there has been an understanding between the Bureau of Land Management, the industry, local communities, tribes, and historic preservation advocates that no development would happen within 10 miles of the park boundary, in order to minimize impacts on the park, its viewshed, and related cultural resources.
Our legislation formalizes that agreement. It is an important piece of a complete solution to protecting the Greater Chaco Landscape. I continue to be grateful to all the New Mexicans raising their voices to protect Chaco's precious and sacred sites. Today's committee action was a positive step forward.
United States Senator