The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in New Mexico has deferred nine parcels totaling about 1,500 acres from a March lease sale due to the parcels' proximity to the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

"We believe it is best to defer these parcels at this time," BLM's New Mexico Director Tom Spisak said. "We will continue to gather information to inform the decisions we make about leasing in this area." The lease sale is scheduled for March 28.

In recent years, Navajo Nation and environmental groups have unsuccessfully tried to get federal court injunctions against oil and gas activity in the park. More recently, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, introduced the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act in Congress.

With the deferrals the sale will include 37 parcels in New Mexico and another nine in Oklahoma. There are six counties covering parts of both the San Juan and Permian basins: Sandoval, San Juan, McKinley, Rio Arriba, Lea and Eddy counties. In Oklahoma, the parcels are split between Dewey and Woodward counties.