Public comment on a resource management plan amendment detailing the possible development of land near the Chaco Culture National Historic Park will be accepted by the Bureau of Land Management until the end of the month.
Talked about for the better part of a decade, the BLM has been looking over a proposal that would allow for gas and oil exploration within a 10-mile buffer zone surrounding the park, which is located roughly 70 miles to the south of Farmington.
The buffer zone comprises some 740,000 acres.
The BLM has previously prohibited exploration activity within that zone. But, as proposed, the size of the buffer zone would be reduced.
Opponents of the idea, including the Washington-based Wilderness Society, point to the historic and delicate nature of the ancient pueblos within the park, arguing that opening up the buffer zone could negatively impact the entire park.
Proponents, such as the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, have argued that prohibiting development in the buffer area will serve to limit economic growth in the region.
Designated as a National Historic Park, the Chaco Culture National Historic Park is the former home of Ancestral Puebloans who built more than a dozen earthen complexes over a two-century period beginning in the year 900.
By Garry Boulard
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