Natural gas and oil drilling will not be allowed on public lands within 10 miles of New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park for 20 years following a decision by the Biden administration.


Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued the land order on Friday (June 2). The order only applies to public lands and federal mineral estates; it does not impact private leasing.

The directive “responds to decades of efforts from tribes, elected officials, and the public to better protect the sacred and historic sites and tribal communities currently living in Northwest New Mexico,” Haaland noted. 

Efforts to protect the greater Chaco landscape were begun years ago. For nearly a decade, Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has not issued a gas and oil lease within the...