WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) called for the permanent protection of the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The area holds much meaning to the Navajo Nation, whose lands surround the park, and New Mexico Pueblos who consider the sites sacred.
In March, at the urging of Senator Heinrich along with members of the delegation and hundreds of New Mexicans, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke agreed to cancel a planned oil and gas lease sale in the greater Chaco region and return to a joint planning process that began in 2016.
Senator Heinrich secured a commitment last year from the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will continue to partner with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in considering future energy development in the area around Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Senator Heinrich has long advocated for the collaboration of BLM and BIA to protecting important cultural religious sites while planning for future energy development, as well as the need to incorporate tribal priorities into the planning process.
The purpose of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing today was to consider the nomination of Aimee Kathryn Jorjani to be Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for the remainder of a four-year term expiring on June 10, 2021.
The full webcast of the hearing is available here.