The Bureau of Land Management will extend the public comment period on a proposal to close federal lands to new mineral leases around Chaco Canyon National Historical Park.

The agency’s announcement comes a month after Navajo residents who lease property to oil and gas companies asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene. They want the judges to reaffirm a lower court’s dismissal of a case filed by environmental groups trying to stop fracking near Chaco Canyon.

“I don’t think the lawsuit had any merit at all,” said Troy A. Eid of Greenberg Traurig LLP, who represents the tribe members, “This is not an area where someone is proposing resource development in a new fashion or new place. This is an area where the principal source of economic benefit to probably more than 20,000 families comes from oil and gas.”

Navajo allotment land owners in the region have long worked with the federal government and oil and gas companies to lease mineral rights, creating a source of income for them and their families.

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