Here are two academic sites with information on Chaco Canyon.
BLM Defers on Fracking Leases near Chaco Canyon
Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management deferred for the third time the sale of three oil and gas lease parcels and approximately 2,122 acres of federal mineral estate on Navajo allotment lands in the Greater Chaco region. A broad coalition of local and regional watchdog groups submitted comments opposing the lease sale for fracking near Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The comments focused in part on the agency’s woefully insufficient management plan for the region, which treats the Greater Chaco’s communities and landscapes as a sacrifice zone. BLM’s deferral of these leases, for the third time, illustrates the need for the agency to complete its ongoing resource management plan amendment before continuing to lease and authorize the development of any additional public lands for oil and gas. http://bit.ly/1LSSdPZ – Pagosa Daily Post
Researchers recently worked out carbon-14 dates on scarlet macaw skeletons, most from the great house of Pueblo Bonito. They found that macaws were present at least a century before archaeologists thought—some as early as A.D. 900 to 975. The results from this direct dating method are considered more accurate than previous, relative dates.
Chaco was a central ceremonial place in the early Puebloan world, with a complex society and upper-crust elites. To archaeologists, the dates suggest that the elites, who controlled access to the highly prized macaws, were in power earlier than had previously been thought.
This is follow up to an earlier post (Researchers say 2 mountain ranges provided wood for Chaco).
There’s a massive increase in the amount of construction—about half of ‘downtown Chaco’ houses were built at the time the wood started coming from the Chuska Mountains,” Guiterman said. To read in-depth about the ancient Southwest, go to “On the Trail of the Mimbres.”
I’ve read before that the Chuska mountains were a source of Chaco’s wood. Distance isn’t the only issue considering that the Anasazi didn’t have wheels. Chimney Rock to the north is said to have provided wood from the surrounding mountains in the South San Juans. Chimney Rock is over 150 miles from Chaco by road; surely more than 50 miles away by any other route.
Looking at the map below, one has to wonder if wood came from the area around Mount Taylor, north of Grants (southeast of Chaco & next to Zuni), or from Jemez (due east of Chaco). Again, distance isn’t the only issue.
Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 at 8:59am
TUCSON, Ariz. — University of Arizona researchers have concluded that wood used to construct large buildings at what is now Chaco (CHAh-co) Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico came from two different mountain ranges.
According to the university’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, most of the wood for the building projects in Chaco’s arid setting came from the Zuni Mountains before the year 1020. That mountain range is about 50 miles south of Chaco and located southeast of Gallup.
However, the researchers say the Chuska Mountains became the main wood source became by 1060. The Chuskas are located about 50 miles to the west of Chaco.
Chaco is a World Heritage site. The area was considered a ceremonial and economic center for the ancestors of many Native American tribes in the region.
Our new Land Commissioner is likely to regard mineral extraction as more important than Chaco. Keep a sharp eye out and raise Hell over every threat to this treasure.
I like to drive to Chaco by going north out of Grants via Milan. The lower portion of this route is marred by old radioactive tailing ponds. However, my last trip a year or more ago I passed through a hellish landscape of smoke and dust as countless large machines ripped up the land. I’d like to see that on the 10 o’clock news and the front of the newspaper. Instead, this destruction goes on just out of sight of most travelers. Don’t let it get an inch closer to Chaco.
In some ways, it still looks like it did centuries ago.
“Right now, you can stand at Pueblo Alto, look north and see a landscape that is substantially the same as what the Chacoans saw,” said Barbara West, former superintendent of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
But that could be changing.
If we left it up to the market, there would be an oil well in the middle of Rinconada. The profiteers don’t care what they destroy for money. Look at the stripmining going on just barely south of Chaco and the toxic waste closer to Grants.
“We’re not against oil and gas drilling [mjh: I AM!], but it has to be done properly,” said Bruce Gordon, president of EcoFLight, during a flight over the park and its surroundings on Monday morning.
The Partnership for Responsible Business and the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce organized the flyover tour that included one tribal leader and a handful of journalists.
“The biggest thing is the landscape,” said Keenan King, who works with the Partnership for Responsible Business.
Barbara West, a former Chaco Canyon park superintendent, and Mike Eisenfeld, with the San Juan Citizens Alliance, flew above the park on Sunday evening. They were interviewed after the flight in Farmington on Monday.
The group agreed that the BLM needed to create a “Master Leasing Plan” that would take into consideration keeping the park largely unspoiled for visitors.
“We don’t want Chaco to be an island surrounded by hundreds of wells,” said Paul Reed, an archeologist with Archeology Southwest and the author of “The Puebloan Society of Chaco Canyon.”
The Alto trail is great, but strenuous, starting with a scramble up a cleft in the cliff. I love the view from the opposite trail near South Gap (also a strenuous climb). You look over Casa Rinconada at Pueblo Bonito and see them aligned with Alto on the horizon. Several other ruins are also visible east and west of Bonito. Beautiful.
By Jaclyn Waggoner / For The Daily Times
PUBLISHED: Friday, April 25, 2014
While the area as a whole is an explorer’s delight, there is a hiking trail that embraces the entire culture of the park. The Pueblo Alto Trail has an overlook for Pueblo Bonito, the largest great house in the park. The trail also overlooks the other Chacoan buildings, takes you through Pueblo Alto and New Alto, brings you past famous Chacoan stairs built into the rocks and offers amazing panoramic views.
National Park Service Ranger Kayla Lanoue says the trail takes you through areas with the highest concentrations of cultural sites in the park.
FARMINGTON (AP) — Federal land managers have proposed limiting the number of parcels to be leased for oil and natural gas development near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico.
The Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday released its environmental assessment for the lease sale that will take place in January. The agency has called for cutting the number of available parcels to just four.
The industry initially nominated 38 parcels totaling more than 19,000 acres. One of those was less than a quarter-mile from the park’s boundary.
The Hopi Tribe in Arizona and others had criticized the idea of drilling near the park, which includes a series of monumental stone structures that date back centuries. The area was considered a ceremonial and economic center for the ancestors of many Native American tribes in the region.
Critics were concerned development could harm archaeological and environmental resources at the World Heritage site.
BLM officials said they consulted with tribes before issuing their proposal and that the proximity of the parcels to Chaco was one of the considerations.
The parcels that will be up for lease are several miles from the park and adjacent to existing oil and gas operations.
Chaco is the 12th park to receive the designation worldwide and only the fourth in the national park system.
The acting park superintendent, Larry Turk, says as light pollution becomes more common, people are seeking out places like Chaco so they can get a glimpse of the stars.
Due to Chaco’s remote location, the park’s night sky is nearly pristine.
Drive south from Navajo Route 9 on county road 509 to Grants, by way of Milan. Along that road, Peabody Energy has wasted the land on both sides of the road. [cue John Prine] Farther south, you’ll find the poisonous tailings ponds that will be there FOREVER, even as greedy fools call for renewed uranium mining in Mt Taylor. Corporations and money makers DON’T GIVE A DAMN about the land or the people. Do you want to give them Chaco Canyon in the process?
FARMINGTON — The Hopi Tribe has submitted comments to the Bureau of Land Management that are critical of potential drilling near Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Oil and gas firms have nominated 38 oil and gas leases, totaling 19,103 acres, for a January lease sale. The BLM is evaluating the parcels for the lease sale, and it is not yet clear which parcels will be included or if some will be withdrawn.
One of the parcels is less than a quarter-mile from the park’s boundary. The park is a World Heritage Site.
[hat tip to Laura Paskus, New Mexico In Depth]
I’ve driven to Chaco Canyon, the Anasazi heartland in northwest New Mexico, every year for nearly 30 years, sometimes more than once per year. I have driven in and out every available route, including the long-since closed old north road that wound down past Casa Chiquita. Overall, I prefer to drive in from the south via Grants and Milan (at least, until Peabody Energy destroyed that area). I like the old south road in, as rugged as it can be. In contrast, the new south road via Pueblo Pintado is out of the way, connecting to the north road before the worst of that stretch. When I come in via the south, I go out north along the road that may be the major route for travelers.
If you haven’t been to Chaco, there is much you may not be able to fully imagine. It’s remote. It’s largely desolate. It’s well-worth almost any journey. Like many of the Chaco faithful, I have opposed paving the final stretch of the north road. I felt this is a pilgrimage and need not be easy. I was surprised after all these year to change my mind about this.
[from my journal at the time]
I made coffee and ate lunch of cheese and crackers. I dropped the camper roof and stowed everything. By 12:15pm, I was ready to roll.
And roll, I did. When I left pavement at the park boundary, the entire vehicle shook violently. Suddenly, the dash was beeping and flashing. It was only the alarm for the passenger seat belt, set off by the weight of my gear and the shaking. I slowed to 15mph for much of the next 15 miles — do the math. During that stretch, I reconsidered the issue of whether to pave the road in. I think the old South road should remain wild and primitive, but now, I think the north road should be paved. Why should every person who visits Chaco have a miserable trip in and out again? That’s not a right of passage, that’s abuse. If the real concern is a flood of visitors, then regulate the size of vehicles or the number of passengers entering Chaco at one time. Limit touring companies, if they become an issue. Why should we all suffer time and again? So long as I can chose to suffer and enjoy the old South Road now and then. …
It’s weird to go from foot pace to 65 miles per hour in such a short time. To go from a teeth jarring road to smooth asphalt. To accelerate into the modern world from the ancient and ageless.
The old south road should never be closed nor improved. Never. But, I’m ready for pavement to the north, back to the place we came from.
Visit my Chaco page for more text and photos.
I recommend the essay and photos by Margaret Randall, a New Mexico treasure herself.
By Margaret Randall – International Raconteur
(Photos by Margaret Randall) At Chaco Culture National Historic Park much is apparent but much remains hidden. The place hides as many secrets as it reveals. What one sees is breathtaking. What one cannot see but only feel, also awes the spirit. A vast solitude describes the landscape: once probably greener and more sustaining of life, today dramatically desolate, a mystery only partially unfolding….