Daily Times: Column, "Working together to strike a balance for Greater Chaco"

Chaco Canyon is more than just a national park, though. It’s central to the history of our people and other pueblos and tribes in New Mexico. A thousand years ago, it was the center of the pueblo world. People from throughout the San Juan Basin traveled to the canyon along formal, constructed roads, including the famous Great North Road, to trade and participate in religious and cultural events. To this day, pueblo people come to Chaco Canyon to honor our ancestors and carry on these religious and cultural practices.

Archeological marvels, such as Pueblo Bonito, are the reason the United Nations designated Chaco Canyon and several sites outside the park as a World Heritage Site. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has identified nearly 2,000 Pueblo and Navajo cultural sites on surrounding public lands.
However, as oil and gas development encroaches closer and closer to Chaco Canyon, the health of the park and the beauty of the landscape are increasingly threatened. A spider web of drill pads, roads and pipelines now fragments the landscape north of the park, surrounding some of the World Heritage Sites and crisscrossing the Great North Road (and other prehistoric roads). Ozone forming pollutants from well sites using outdated technology are making a bad situation even worse for air quality. And Chaco Canyon’s famous night skies are now at risk, due to the increasingly common practice of “flaring” natural gas when drilling for oil.
By Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo and Rep. Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque