Written by by Dan Tynan, CNN
An agreement with the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee Joe Biden calls for the United States to end oil and gas exploration near one of the most celebrated sites of the ancient Southwest — the Chaco Culture.
A statement from the Democratic Foundation of New Mexico, the non-profit organization that brought the protections to the Chaco Canyon, said the agreement was signed this week and will protect the site for the “foreseeable future.”
“While Joe Biden hasn’t lived in New Mexico in decades, the enormous amount of work he has supported for our state is the type of legacy he is leaving for our family, our children and our grandchildren,” Joseph Myatt, president of the Democratic Foundation of New Mexico, said in a statement.
“The Chaco Cultural Monument and the thousands of acres on which it sits form the foundation of New Mexico’s stunning natural landscape and are a testament to the legacy of our ancestors who provided their gifts for our future.”
MORE: What it’s like to fly over the Chaco Culture
Biden and Myatt proposed the agreement — which has the support of President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton — two years ago.
Although the agreement to protect the site from oil and gas drilling has been a cause of concern in New Mexico for several years, it has been particularly difficult to get through Congress.
According to local news outlets, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is currently working on bipartisan legislation that will attempt to get the protections in place. The legislation does not yet have a name.
Joseph Myatt, president of the Democratic Foundation of New Mexico Credit: Joe Myatt
The Chaco Culture is considered one of the largest cultural and scientific sites in the New World. The approximately 1,000 square miles include archaeological evidence, including drawings, architecture, clothing and pottery, dating back approximately 9,000 years to the time of the Great Depression.
The formation is renowned for various domed and domed-like buildings and kivas, or an early version of a chapel. A number of the vessels were capable of carrying up to 10,000 pounds of wine.
“There is a long list of monuments or historically significant sites that have received protection due to the contributions and dedication made by the Biden family,” Myatt said.