Statement | Washington, DC | October 30, 2019

U.S. House Passes Significant, Bi-Partisan Legislation to Protect Cultural Resources at Chaco Canyon

Statement by the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Today, the U.S House of Representatives approved legislation to permanently protect New Mexico’s Greater Chaco Landscape, a place that is widely considered one of America’s most important cultural landscapes. The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2019 (H.R. 2181) would remove all public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) within ten miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park from consideration for future oil and gas lease sales, officially codifying a temporary moratorium on drilling in the region. The legislation passed the House on a vote of 245 to 174 and now moves on to consideration by the Senate.

The following statement was issued by Thomas Cassidy, vice president of government relations and policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“This action moves us closer to ensuring that one of America’s most significant and irreplaceable cultural landscapes is permanently protected, and we applaud the House for taking this important step. The National Trust has been focused on protecting this iconic piece of the American story for many years. We listed the Greater Chaco Landscape as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2011 because of the stunning examples of Chacoan architectural and cultural resources located there, including remains of great houses, ceremonial structures, engineered roads and other cultural treasures that help to tell the story of a thousand years of human history in this region.

“This legislation was supported by the entire New Mexico Congressional delegation as well as by thousands of people across the country who believe that energy exploration and drilling should not come at the cost of destroying critical pieces of America’s cultural heritage. The House took a key step toward achieving this goal today, and we now call on the Senate to help ensure that this vital cultural link to the ancient Chacoan people is permanently protected.”

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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