US land managers shift position on Chaco protection bill

U.S. land managers are open to legislation that would limit federal leases for oil and natural gas development near a national park in New Mexico held sacred by Native Americans

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- U.S. land managers are open to legislation that would limit federal leases for oil and natural gas development near a national park in New Mexico held sacred by Native Americans.

Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director of Operations Michael Nedd told members of a congressional subcommittee Wednesday that the agency had no objection to the bill.

The agency shifted its stance following a recent visit by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Bernhardt said the agency will defer leases within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of the park over the next year while regulators prepare a new management plan for the region's resources.