Navajo Nation votes in favor of smaller ‘buffer zone’ around Chaco Canyon

New Mexico
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NAVAJO NATION (KRQE) – A Navajo Nation decision could end up shrinking the hotly contested buffer zone around Chaco Canyon.

Lawmakers and community groups have been fighting to block oil and gas activity around the national park south of Farmington. A bill pending in Congress would mandate a 10-mile radius, but Navajo Nation delegates voted last week to support a five-mile radius.

They cited concerns that the change could interfere with the mineral rights of Navajo landowners, as well as their ability to profit from leasing their land. The vote came as a surprise to Navajo President Jonathan Nez, who says he thought tribal leaders were all on the same page.

However, those behind the measure say not all departments were consulted when that bill was drafted.

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