The Latest: US House approves protections near Chaco park

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on federal legislation to create buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

The U.S. House has approved legislation that would prohibit oil and gas development on federal land surrounding a national park in New Mexico held sacred by numerous Native American tribes.

The vote came Wednesday on a spending bill that included language calling for the creation of a buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico says there are some areas where drilling should not take place and that the area around Chaco is one of them.

The measure calls for federal land managers to work with the state and tribes to conduct an inventory of cultural resources. It also asks for ethnographic studies beyond the 10-mile (16-kilometer) buffer.

The area includes land belonging to the Navajo Nation and individual tribal members. The legislation does not affect those parcels.


11 p.m.

The checkerboard of federal land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park would be off limits to oil and gas development under legislation pending before Congress.

The U.S. House is set to vote on the measure Wednesday.

The campaign to curb drilling in one of the nation’s oldest basins has spanned at least three presidential administrations. In recent years, concerns expanded beyond environmental impacts to the preservation of cultural landmarks.

Native American leaders and environmentalists have praised the legislation, saying it would protect irreplaceable sites located beyond park boundaries.

The measure calls for withdrawing nearly 500 square miles (1,280 square kilometers) of federal land holdings. However, it would not apply to parcels belonging to the Navajo Nation or individual tribal members, which make up most of the area within the proposed protection zone.

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