Comment Period Extended: Chaco Canyon RMP

05/22/2020 2:38 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

The Department of the Interior has extended the public comment period on the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for expanded oil and gas development near New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Thousands of sacred, ancestral sites of indigenous peoples including the Hopi, Navajo and Zuni are located in the Chaco Canyon region, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

The extension comes after the agency faced criticism from numerous groups regarding the ability of the public to participate in the comment process during the pandemic. The concern particularly applies to tribal nations living near the Chaco Canyon, as many tribe members do not have access to the broadband infrastructure necessary to participate in the virtual public meetings. From Bloomberg Law:

The extension announced Thursday heeds calls from the Navajo Nation, activists, and Congressional Democrats to allow Navajos living near Chaco Canyon, hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis, to have more time to react to the proposal.

The Bureau of Land Management, part of Interior, expanded the comment period for 120 days, to Sept. 25. BLM officials offered no explanation for the extension, and bureau spokesman Derrick Henry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

ACRA members in the region are encouraged to engage in the public comment process. Comments can be submitted online here, and you can also find additional information on the public engagement process on that page. 

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