U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has agreed to put off oil and gas leasing for a year on land that tribes consider sacred surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico.
Officials say that will allow time to finish an updated management plan to guide energy development across the region. The decision comes after Bernhardt visited the ancient site Tuesday.
The area has been central to an ongoing dispute over drilling in the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado.
Native American tribes and others are pushing for a formal buffer to protect culturally significant sites within 10 miles of the park.
The management plan will include an alternative that reflects the views of Native American leaders and provisions from pending federal legislation.
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