For almost 5000 years Chaco Canyon has been a place revered by its inhabitants. Science shows that there have been people present in Chaco since 2900 B.C., it has been preserved and taken care of by every new generation that has had the pleasure of living in the natural beauty that the San Juan Basin offers.
Already designated a World Heritage Site, just last year Chaco Canyon was also designated an International Dark Sky Park. There are only 14 on Earth.
Did you know? According to a recent National Park Service report, nearly 40,000 people visited Chaco Culture National Historic Park in 2012 which generated almost $2.3 million in direct economic activity. Communities across New Mexico from Farmington, to Aztec, and even Albuquerque benefit from these tourism dollars.
But these designations don’t mean much to those who see Chaco for its bounty, not its beauty.
Last year the oil and gas industry applied to drill on 38 parcels, more than 19,000 acres, near the Chaco Canyon National Historic Park. The Bureau of Land Management settled on just a few but New Mexicans stood up, spoke out and stopped that plan.
Did you know? Across the West, BLM has already designated more than 38 million acres of public land for drilling, but the industry is using just 12 million of those acres.
57% of BLM land designated and approved for drilling sits idle. Read more here.
Do we really need more?
And New Mexico’s Oil & Gas industry is doing just fine (and so are taxpayers who benefit from the royalties they generate):
Now BLM is developing a 20 year plan for land use – including fracking and drilling – across Northwest New Mexico and the Four Corners and those same oil and gas companies are at it again, this time asking BLM for permission to frack around the park in ways that will forever alter the place held sacred by 5,000 years of people before us.
Imagine the impacts of drilling and fracking in such a special place. The light from gas flaring from new fracking fields in the Dakotas can now be seen from space. Chaco’s dark sky designation would forever be lost with that type of development. Not to mention the damage to historic places and precious water from fracking-inspired earthquakes and groundwater contamination.
We need a balanced approach to energy development in the San Juan Basin. More than 90 percent of public lands are already leased for oil and gas development in northwest New Mexico. Can’t we save a few for the rest of us?
Public comments close soon and the billion dollar industries have a big interest in expanding fracking and drilling in places we should protect.
You can do this by contacting Bureau of Land Management State Director Jesse Juen, and tell him to help us protect Chaco Canyon by having a balanced approach to energy development that looks across the landscape to make sure that oil and gas development occurs responsibly and in the right places. Chaco Canyon is a New Mexico treasure worth protecting.
Help us make sure that we don’t become the generation that screws up Chaco Canyon! Together we can ensure that New Mexico remains the Land of Enchantment.