Oil and gas companies developing a plan to drill in Chaco

Posted at: 03/19/2014 6:48 PM
By: Devin Neeley, KOB Eyewitness News 4

In the San Juan Basin, the landscape is dotted with pump jacks. Each one working to bring New Mexico's precious natural resources to the surface. But some people are concerned about drilling near Chaco Canyon. Now the Bureau of Land Management is working with oil and gas companies-- and the public -- to make the best use of that land. 

“We have a difficult mandate,” said BLM Farmington Field Office Manager, Gary Torres, “We have to balance uses, we have to have responsible energy development.”

Conservation groups went to the first of three public meetings today to comment on the new land use plan.

“Chaco is very interesting site it is in some ways the center of the world for this part of the United States,” said Tom Pittenger of Park Rangers for our parks.

Max Trujillo with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation said, “Our biggest concern is that the BLM consider the migratory patterns of elk and deer populations in that area.”

With millions of dollars in tourism revenue from Chaco Canyon, the stakes are high and BLM wants to get the land use plan right.

“I want people to walk away feeling like it makes sense,” said Torres.

BLM hopes to have the finalized land use plan in place by 2016.

This was the first of three meetings for public comment. The next is Thursday March 19, from 4-7 p.m. at the Aztec Senior Center and the final meeting is at Lybrook Elementary/Middle School at 12:30 p.m. on Friday March 21.