ALBUQUERQUE – U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has agreed to put a yearlong hold on oil and gas leasing within 10 miles of Chaco Canyon National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico.
Officials say that will allow for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to finish drafting an updated management plan that will guide energy development across the region.
The decision comes after Bernhardt visited the ancient site Tuesday.
The area has been central to an ongoing dispute over drilling in the San Juan Basin. Native American tribes and others are pushing for a formal buffer to protect sacred and culturally significant sites outside the park’s boundaries.
The draft will include an alternative that reflects the views of Native American leaders as well as provisions of pending federal legislation.