Federal agencies will examine land management
FARMINGTON — The Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs will conduct a joint review of resource management of public and tribal lands in northwest New Mexico.
This is the first joint effort by the BLM's Farmington Field Office and the BIA's Navajo Regional Office in Gallup to examine the potential impact of oil and gas leases near Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
U.S. Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary Mike Connor made the announcement today in a press release.
Connor said in the release the work is a step forward in addressing concerns surrounding oil and gas development around Chaco Canyon, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The announcement comes a year after Connor and U.S. Tom Udall, D-N.M., toured Chaco Canyon and hosted a listening session about concerns regarding leases near the site.
Udall supported the joint effort in a press release today.
"It is significant that this review will be done cooperatively between the BLM and BIA; this is an important step that I hope will result in a balanced approach as the agency writes its resource management plan for the area," Udall said in the release.
The BLM started its process to update its resource management plan in 2014. The plan serves as a guide for developing activities on public lands.
On Thursday, a notice of intent to prepare the resource management plan amendment and conduct an environmental impact statement will be published in the Federal Register. The notice will start a 60-day public scoping period, and information gathered during that process will be added to previously collected information for the EIS, according to the Interior Department release.
As part of the process, the agencies will host public scoping meetings in November at chapter houses on the Navajo Nation.
The public scoping meetings will take place at the Huerfano Chapter house from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 10; the Counselor Chapter house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 12; the Nageezi Chapter house from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 12; the Ojo Encino Chapter house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 14; the Whitehorse Lake Chapter house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 15; and at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 17.
Tentative dates and times have been set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Shiprock Chapter house and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.