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Navajo Nation urges reduced buffer around Chaco Culture NHP to protect tribal landowner interests

Lawmakers from the country's largest American Indian reservation may have thrown a wrinkle into efforts aimed at establishing a permanent buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park, as New Mexico’s congressional delegation, environmentalists and other tribes try to keep oil and gas development from getting closer to the World Heritage site.

Navajo Nation delegates voted Thursday to support a buffer only half the size of the one outlined in federal legislation pending in Congress. They cited concerns from Navajo landowners who fear their mineral rights would be landlocked and the money they earn through lease payments and royalties compromised if future development is prohibited across a wider swath of land surrounding the national park.

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