Which people will make recommendations about land use near Chaco?
FARMINGTON — A group consisting primarily of tribal leaders and environmental advocates will make recommendations to State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard on land use near Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
The Chaco Canyon Land Office Working Group was created when Garcia Richard signed an executive order over the weekend placing a moratorium on new oil, gas and mineral leases on state lands near Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
The working group will meet from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at San Juan College, according to a press release from the State Land Office. This will be the group's second meeting. The first meeting was Saturday when Garcia Richard issued the executive order.
"Saturday's event felt like a watershed moment," said Rebecca Sobel, the senior climate and energy campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. Sobel is one of the 20 members of the working group. She said the working group plans to meet monthly.
Sobel said she feels honored to sit on the same working group as tribal leaders, including council delegates.
The executive order states that a moratorium will allow the State Land Office “to explore other land uses that are more consistent with the protection and preservation of the landscape” in the Greater Chaco area.
The moratorium will impact 72,776 acres of state trust land within 10 miles of the park. The order will not impact federal or private holdings in the area, which is known as the checkerboard due to various surface and subsurface ownership.
The executive order came weeks after Garcia Richard spoke to a Congressional subcommittee about the impacts of oil and gas development on sites like Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Members of the Chaco Canyon Land Office Working Group
Tso is a Navajo Nation Council Delegate representing Baca/Prewitt, Casamero Lake, Counselor, Littlewater, Ojo Encino, Pueblo Pintado, Torreon and Whitehorse Lake chapters. He has been an outspoken critic of oil and gas development near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. He has led tours he calls Fracking Reality Tours near Chaco Canyon.
Rico is the chapter president of the Torreon Chapter. Like Tso, Rico has pushed for a moratorium on oil and gas development in the greater Chaco Region.
George Werito Jr.:
Werito is the chapter president of the Ojo Encino Chapter. Werito has also advocated for a buffer zone around Chaco Canyon.
Harry Domingo Sr.:
Domingo is the chapter president of Counselor. He has also pushed for greater protections for Chaco Canyon.
Chavez is the chapter president of the Nageezi chapter and a former San Juan County Commissioner. He has also supported creating a buffer zone around Chaco.
Pasqual serves as a member of the All Pueblo Council of Governors Natural Resources Committee. Pasqual is a member of Acoma Pueblo. She is an archaeologist and formerly served as the historic preservation director for Acoma Pueblo.
Naranjo is the policy coordinator for the All Pueblo Council of Governors. She is a member of Santa Clara Pueblo.
Chiquito serves on the staff of the Ojo Encino chapter. Chiquito's parents are allottees.
Curley is the field representative for U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM. Udall has introduced legislation that would ban new oil and gas leases on federal lands near Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Reed is a preservation archaeologist for Archaeology Southwest. Reed is based in Taos, but works as a Chaco scholar at Salmon Ruins near Bloomfield. He has spent six years advocating for protections like a buffer zone around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Sobel is the senior climate and energy campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. Protecting Greater Chaco from oil and gas development is one of seven priorities listed on the environmental advocacy group's website, along with stopping fossil fuel production on public lands. WildEarth Guardians is part of the Greater Chaco Coalition, which has submitted thousands of comments opposing oil and gas leases near Chaco Canyon. Sobel said the coalition plans on filing more than 11,000 comments today opposing proposed parcels near Chaco Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns that are included in the June lease sale. She said some of those leases are a few miles outside of the 10-mile Chaco buffer zone.
Tisdel works as an attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. Western Environmental Law Center has sued the Bureau of Land Management and Department of the Interior alleging federal land managers did not adequately consider the impacts of oil and gas development on historical and archaeological sites near Chaco. A federal judge dismissed the case last year.
Seamster is the chairwoman of Northern New Mexico Sierra Club. Sierra Club advocates for 100 percent renewable energy and opposes oil and gas development near Chaco Canyon.
Flaherty is an organizer for the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Grant is an energy and climate researcher for San Juan Citizens Alliance. San Juan Citizens Alliance joined Western Environmental Law Center in the lawsuit against the BLM and Department of the Interior. The group's website states oil and gas development near Chaco has been "reckless, badly planned, egged on by corrupt officials, and enabled by shady laws."
Eisenfeld is the energy and climate program manager for San Juan Citizens Alliance.
Sage is a resident who lives in Counselor Chapter, where he serves as community services coordinator. Sage has been an environmental advocate pushing for a moratorium on fracking and a buffer zone around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Simpson is a former Navajo Council Delegate representing Becenti, Lake Valley, Nahodishgish, Standing Rock, Whiterock, Huerfano, Nageezi, and Crownpoint chapters.
Freeland is a Navajo Nation Council Delegate representing Becenti, Crownpoint, Huerfano, Lake Valley, Nageezi, Nahodishgish, Tse’ii’ahí and Whiterock. He served on the transition team for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Montoya is the vice president of the Torreon Chapter.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story has been modified to correct the spelling of a name.