Interior protects tribal sacred lands in New Mexico

Placitas New Mexico

PLACITAS, NM – At a community event in Sandoval County, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland signed Public Land Order 7940, protecting more than 4,200 acres of Bureau of Land Management-managed public lands in the Placitas area.

The ultimate extraction of minerals protects and promotes the scenic integrity, cultural importance, recreational values ​​and connectivity of the country’s wildlife habitats and the surrounding area. The lands will be closed to new mining claims, mineral sales and oil and gas leases for the next 50 years, subject to valid existing rights.

“Indigenous communities have called the Placitas area home since time immemorial, with evidence of their presence from nearly every settlement period over the past 10,000 years,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The site contains important cultural links with neighboring Pueblos and provides outdoor recreation opportunities for the local community. I appreciate the work of so many people who have come together to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty and unique values ​​of these special countries.”

This milestone furthers President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, which supports locally led and voluntary efforts to conserve, connect and restore lands and waters across the country that support the health of communities, strengthen local economies and help combat climate change.

The Pueblos of San Felipe and Santa Ana have long sought protection for the Placitas area, which they consider ancestral and sacred land. Located near the Albuquerque Metro Station, the location also offers outdoor recreation opportunities close to home and is popular for hiking, camping, sightseeing and hunting.

As a member of Congress, Secretary Haaland sponsored the Buffalo Tract Protection Act to protect the Placitas area. The legislation was also recently reintroduced in the House and Senate.

The Department of the Interior first announced these proposed protections in September 2023, beginning an initial 90-day public comment period that included a public meeting. In February 2024, the BLM held a second 30-day comment period to gather additional input from interested parties and affected stakeholders.