According to this story there are some, possible plans to put natural gas wells south of the visitor center:
Cimarex Energy Company, a natural gas company out of Denver, Colorado, has proposed two natural gas pads with 4 wells on the southern boundary of Chaco Canyon NHP on state of New Mexico Trust land. The two locations would be within visual distance of the Visitor Center of Chaco Canyon NHP and could significantly impact archeological-astronomical features at Chaco Canyon, that are a primary reason for Chaco Canyon’s designation as a World Heritage Site. Given that Cimarex would need to haul all of their drilling equipment in on either Route 57 or San Juan County Road (CR) 7950 there are federal law implications that have not been readily resolved concerning compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act or the National Environmental Policy Act. Neither Route 57 or CR 7950 are adequately built for drill rigs to be hauled into the Chaco Canyon area – they would need significant upgrades. Cimarex is stating that they intend to start construction on their wells within the next 10 days and that they have all permits in hand. Chaco Canyon NHP has not been formally given the opportunity to respond to the proposed Cimarex natural gas wells nor have Memorandum of Understandings with state and Federal agencies been followed. Both Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) participation would be required for permitting of these wells and associated infrastructure. There is no Plan of Development for the wells which would describe long-term infrastructure needed (such as pipelines, additional roads, electricity lines, water hauling, compressors, flaring) that have the potential to adversely impact Chaco Canyon and must be fully analyzed before drilling would commence. There has also been absolutely no public notification or participation in the siting of these wells. [emphasis mine – afarensis]
The following local groups are working on this problem:
Chaco Alliance – primary contact is Anson Wright 503 709-0038
San Juan Citizens Alliance – primary contact is Mark Pearson 970
New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
Please take Action today by writing (emails are preferable as they provide a record trail) and/or calling the following people and telling them that the Cimarex wells have no place anywhere near Chaco Canyon:
Katherine Slick, New Mexico State Historic Preservation Officer: email@example.com
Barbara West Superintendent of Chaco Canyon Barbara_West@nps.gov
505 986-7014 extension 230
Mike Snyder Intermountain Regional Director of National Park
Service in Denver 303 969-2500
Representative Tom Udall website http://tomudall.house.gov
Senator Jeff Bingaman firstname.lastname@example.org
I find this appalling. Fortunately, PR is having an affect. According to this story the leases have been put on hold while the Land Office’s archaeologist assess the situation. Lets hope sanity prevails. Meantime, if your care about the preservation of this priceless area please contact the above individuals. This is especially important because it does not sound, to me, like everything is above board to begin with.
Update: According to this story the leases have been canceled!
ALBUQUERQUE The state Land Office initially approved the lease of two oil wells south of the visitors center at Chaco Canyon.
But now state Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons has decided not to allow a Colorado company to drill the wells.
He says there’s a moral obligation to maintain the integrity of Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Denver-based Cimarex Energy Company holds the lease on 12-hundred-80 acres a mile south of the park’s boundary.
The Land Office began an archaeological review after receiving about a dozen phone calls from people concerned about the drilling.
Lyons will ask Cimarex Energy to move its drilling to another parcel of state land or will refund the ten-thousand dollars the company paid for the lease.