New Mexico's beautiful Chaco Canyon region is home to sacred ancient ruins. Now, the government wants to let fossil fuel companies frack millions of acres of land–putting this priceless cultural heritage at grave risk.
More than a thousand years ago, Chaco Canyon was the center of a vast civilization that stretched across much of the American southwest. The ancient Anasazi people built huge ceremonial Great Houses in and around the canyon and connected them to spiritually significant places with massive roads. These feats of architecture and engineering by that vanished culture are considered sacred to this day by the Pueblo–the descendants of the Chacoans–and Navajo.
Now that priceless inheritance is under threat. Fossil fuel companies are moving in around Chaco Canyon, as risky new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology allows exploitation of nearby shale deposits. It's bad enough that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) already allows extraction in the region–but now it's moving toward approving hundreds of new permits for oil and gas companies to frack and drill millions of acres. The area threatened by fracking includes 35 Chaco Great Houses and a vast network of ancient roads.
The BLM is currently revising its land use plan for the Chaco region. They could greatly strengthen protections for these invaluable cultural treasures -- if enough of us speak up. In the next few days, we have a valuable window: the BLM is taking public comments on environmental impact until next Wednesday, May 28. Tell the BLM that fracking Chaco’s sacred sites is one extraction project that the public won’t just rubber-stamp. Write to BLM Director Neil Kornze, BLM New Mexico State Director Jesse Juen, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (the cabinet member who oversees the BLM):