Proximity of oil and gas parcels to Chaco park spur protest

Chaco canyon

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Environmentalists are challenging plans by federal land managers to lease four parcels in northwestern New Mexico for oil and gas development, saying the property is too close to Chaco Cultural National Historical Park.

The world heritage site and its outlying archaeological remnants have become the focus of the fight over expanded drilling in one of the nation’s largest natural gas fields as environmentalists push to curtail development in the region.

The Bureau of Land Management has already established a 10-mile buffer around the park.

Environmentalists say the parcels in question – which cover less than two square miles – are near the homes of Navajo residents and within 20 miles of the park.

BLM officials in Farmington said they will review the protest.

The next lease sale is scheduled for Jan. 25.

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