Hovenweep National Monument
Flights over public lands near Hovenweep National Monument with Town of Bluff, legislative staff, Friends of Cedar Mesa, NPCA, All Pueblo Governors Council, San Juan County Commissioners and media gave passengers a better understanding of this important yet little-known landscape and the effort to defer leasing that threatens night skies and hundreds of cultural sites here.
Lying between Hovenweep National Monument, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument to the east and Bears Ears National Monument to the west is a seldom-explored cultural landscape. The area is significant to many Native American Tribes throughout the region including Hopi, Zuni, Ute, Navajo, and many Pueblos of New Mexico. These lands contain thousands of cultural resources located both inside and outside of protective monument boundaries, many of which still have yet to be documented.
In 2014, Hovenweep was designated a Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park, the darkest of three tiers. Since then, air, light, and sound pollution have encroached on its boundary, threatening pristine dark skies, viewsheds, air quality, and visitor experiences. And now, the proposed and increased oil and gas leasing threatens the area further.
In 2018, 62,000 acres were leased with another 32,000 acres scheduled to be included in the upcoming September lease sale. Leasing at this scale ignores multiple-use mandates, essentially locking up the land for a single, extractive use. Our conservation partners are asking Governor Herbert and Congress to support deferring the leases until permanent protections around the park can preserve cultural resources, visitor experiences and dark skies.