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Heinrich Announces New Protections For Chaco Canyon, Welcomes Biden Administration’s Action On Chaco Mineral Withdrawal

WASHINGTON (Nov. 15, 2021) – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to begin the process to withdraw federal minerals within the Chaco Culture Heritage Withdrawal Area from future mineral development, including new oil and gas leasing. 

In May, Senator Heinrich was the first member of the New Mexico delegation to request the administrative withdrawal, sending a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland asking that she begin the process. Over the last decade, Senator Heinrich has led successful efforts to protect the area from federal oil and gas development.

“Since I’ve been in Congress, we’ve secured a series of actions that have prevented new oil and gas leasing in the vicinity of Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Today marks the beginning of the end of short-term policies that shift every year to the long-term certainty that this unique place will be protected,” said Heinrich. “Chaco Canyon is one of the most precious landscapes on Earth and holds deep meaning for Tribes, Pueblos, and communities in northern New Mexico. I am grateful for Secretary Haaland’s leadership and all of the New Mexicans who have worked to preserve the integrity of Chaco’s irreplaceable resources. I will keep doing all I can to permanently protect the important cultural and religious sites and the sacred landscape of the greater Chaco region for future generations.”

Senator Heinrich intends to reintroduce legislation with his colleagues from the New Mexico delegation to permanently withdraw the federal lands around Chaco Canyon from further mineral development.

Located in Northwestern New Mexico, the Greater Chaco Landscape is a region of great cultural, spiritual, and historical significance to many Pueblos and Indian Tribes and containing thousands of artifacts that date back more than one thousand years. Chaco cultural sites were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and are one of only 24 such sites in the United States.