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Listening session to be held on Chaco Canyon oil and gas ban

Johnny Clark via Flickr
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The Bureau of Land Management is holding a series of listening sessions on whether to ban oil and gas leasing around Chaco Canyon for the next 20 years.

Last year, when Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited the ancient site of Chaco Canyon, she kicked off a period of formal consideration of a process which would bar new oil and gas leasing for twenty years.

"The land gives us everything we need to sustain ourselves, and we must care for it," she said in a press conference in November.

The ban would cover a ten mile radius around the site which was the center of high desert culture a millennium ago.

Now, the Bureau of Land Management is in the midst of a 90 day consultation period, including two listening sessions in person in Farmington on February 23 and one which is also accessible online on February 24.

Reyaun Francisco of the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project tells KUNM he wants the ban to go ahead, "to prevent oil and gas from destroying cultural resources that have been here for millennia.

"And cultural resources that are important for us as indigenous peoples, to know where we came from, and to know where our ancestors are still living and fighting for us today."

The February 24 meeting is at 6pm. Details for attending are here.

Alice Fordham joined the news team in 2022 after a career as an international correspondent, reporting for NPR from the Middle East and later Latin America and Europe. She also worked as a podcast producer for The Economist among other outlets, and tries to meld a love of sound and storytelling with solid reporting on the community. She grew up in the U.K. and has a small jar of Marmite in her kitchen for emergencies.