Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland stopped by Tuesday’s Santa Fe County Commission meeting to voice her support for a resolution calling on Congress to protect Chaco Culture National Historical Park from mining and drilling.
“Chaco Canyon isn’t just my ancestral homeland,” Haaland, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, told county commissioners. “It’s a treasure for all New Mexicans, [and] it’s a treasure for the entire world that’s something we need to preserve, something that families should be able to enjoy without the sounds of drilling and industry moving into the area.”
The resolution, sponsored by county Commissioner Anna Hansen and unanimously approved by the board, urges Congress to enact the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act. The bill, introduced by New Mexico’s congressional delegation, would create a “protection zone” within a roughly 10-mile radius of the park free of mineral development.
The passage of the county’s nonbinding resolution comes about a month after state Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard placed a moratorium on new oil and gas development on nearly 73,000 acres of state trust land in a buffer zone around the park.
In an interview, Haaland said much work remains to be done for the bill to become law.
“Both houses need to agree on the bill, and the president needs to sign it,” she said. “He signed the public lands package, and that was a milestone. He should get his victories where he can right now. That would be my advice to the president, so perhaps he’ll sign this one, too.”
Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.