Chaco-area 20-year leasing ban subject of Monday meeting in Farmington

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – The removal of land in the area of Chaco Canyon from areas where federal mineral leasing is allowed will be the focus of a public meeting Nov. 14 at San Juan College held by the Bureau of Land Management Farmington Field Office.

Another meeting will happen Nov. 15 in Bernalillo.

The federal agency has begun a 30-day review and comment period on the proposed Chaco Area Withdrawal Environmental Assessment.

“The environmental assessment analyzes impacts associated with withdrawing federal minerals from leasing in a ten-mile buffer surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park for 20 years,” a news release by the agency on Nov. 10 stated.  

“The proposed withdrawal is an important part of the Interior Department’s efforts to protect the Chaco Canyon and the greater connected landscape, and to ensure that public land management better reflects the sacred sites, stories, and cultural resources in the region,” the release said. “The BLM is committed to continued engagement with diverse stakeholders and looks forward to ongoing collaborative discussions through the Honoring Chaco Initiative.”

The meeting will be held in-person at the San Juan College Henderson Fine Arts Center at 4601 College Boulevard in Farmington Nov. 14 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The presentation starts at 5 p.m.

The event will include an open-house, presentation, a question-and-answer session, and opportunities for the public to provide oral comments, the release stated.

The agency said Navajo-language translation will be available upon request.

The second meeting takes place at the Sandoval County Administrative Building on Nov. 15 at 1500 Idalia Road, Building D, in Bernalillo.

The document includes an overview of the kinds of activities that would and would not be permitted during the 20-year exclusion period.

“Existing uses of the public lands may continue in accordance with their terms and conditions (except for the location or relocation of mining claims and the sale of new oil and gas leases) during the segregation period, including but not limited to livestock grazing, lawful ingress and egress to any valid or patented mining claims and mineral leases that may exist on these lands,” the document states.

Members of the public can get access to the environmental assessment through the agency’s planning system by navigating online to https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2016892/510.

Comments can also be sent to the Bureau of Land Management, Farmington Field Office, Attn: Sarah Scott, 6251 College Blvd., Suite A, Farmington, NM 87402.  Those comments have to be postmarked by Dec. 10, 2022, the release stated.

For more information call BLM Farmington Field Office Project Manager Scott at 505-564-7689 or email her at sscott@blm.gov.