Endangered Archaeological Sites of New Mexico

Coronado State Monument

The Friends of Coronado State Monument are deeply concerned about the long term future of the Monument.  This concern is shared by the management and staff of New Mexico State Monuments.  The concern is twofold:  the apparent interest in private development of part of the property along the Rio Grande and the fact that the existence of the entire Monument is dependent upon a lease agreement which expires in 2042.
Consequently, the Friends of Coronado State Monument are working on a House Joint Memorial to address this situation and have asked our State Representatives, Roger Madalena and Kathy McCoy, to sponsor it in the current session.  The Memorial would request the Governor to designate both the 26.57 acre parcel along the river plus the existing 97.8 acre parcel as Coronado State Monument and grant a full and undivided interest in the property to the Museum of New Mexico.  This would resolve the future of the Monument in perpetuity.  The issues would be resolved.
On Tuesday evening, at the January meeting, the Albuquerque Archaeological Society overwhelmingly voted to issue a resolution supporting the Friends Memorial.

For those willing to participate in further efforts to preserve our Coronado State Monument, you are invited to a meeting on Sunday, January 28 at 2:00 p.m. at the Sandoval County Historical Society building in Bernalillo.  This meeting is jointly sponsored by the Friends of CSM and the Sandoval County Historical Society.  The Director of New Mexico State Monuments, Mr. Ernesto Ortega, has agreed to present our concerns, answer questions, and provide more information.  Letters of concern and support may be addressed to State Representatives Madalena and McCoy or to your State Representative and Senator.

Roger Madalena: jr_madalena@yahoo.com

Kathy McCoy: katrina@swcp.com



Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT)

and San Juan County , New Mexico

Announce a


for the

San Juan County Road 7950 Improvements Project

DATE: Thursday, November 15, 2007


PLACE: NMDOT District 3 Office

7500 Pan American Freeway, NE Albuquerque , New Mexico 87109


TIME: 6:00 pm : Open House

6:30 pm : Staff Presentation

7:00 pm : Public Comments


PURPOSE OF MEETING : San Juan County , in cooperation with the NMDOT and the FHWA, has initiated a study to evaluate alternatives for improving the unpaved portion of San Juan County Road 7950, the roadway providing primary vehicular access to Chaco Culture National Historical Park . URS Corporation and Taschek Environmental Consulting (TEC) are currently preparing the design and environmental analysis for the proposed project on behalf of San Juan County .


The public involvement meeting will include :

Presentation of study information including scope, purpose, and preliminary findings

Improvement alternatives that are being considered

Opportunity for public input and comments on existing conditions, project related concerns, and cultural resources

If you are interested in the project, but are unable to attend the meeting, please contact John Taschek, at TEC, (505) 821-4700.

Comments will be accepted at the meeting or can be mailed to John Taschek at 8901 Adams, N.E., Albuquerque , NM 87113 , or e-mailed to taschek@aol.com.

Requests for Americans with Disabilities Act-related accommodations should also be directed to John Taschek.


The Office islocated approx 4.5 miles north of the I-25/I-40 Interchange. From I-25, take EXIT 231 ( San Antonio Ave-Ellison Rd ) .Head north on the Pan American Freeway Frontage Road



  • Mesa Prieta (Black Mesa), Rio Arriba County:

    Here are a few links for more information:

    Aztec Ruins, San Juan County:

    Here are a few links for more information:

    Casa San Ysidro, Corrales:

    Here are a few links for more information:

    Protect Chaco Canyon —Don’t Pave the Road!


                There is a movement afoot to finish paving the road to Chaco Culture National Historic Park .   About 16 miles of passable dirt road remains to be paved. The San Juan County Commission has asked Rep. Tom Udall for money to “finish” this road - why seem to be unclear. The park employees did NOT ask for this to happen and it appears the N. M. Department of Tourism and San Juan County Commissioners took it upon themselves to seek this “improvement”. Some think this road represents a liability, but if one takes the time to drive the posted 35 MPH posted speed limit, it is not a liability.  

                What may happen if this road is “improved”? More tourism will be encouraged, and thus affect the park’s already fragile resources.  If increased visitation occurs the National Park Service’s ability to manage these resources will certainly be affected.  It is rumored that increased visitation will increase revenue to San Juan County - maybe so, maybe not.  

    San Juan County wants to pave the road to Chaco Canyon . If you want to protect the ruins of Chaco and preserve the remote character of the area, you can help. The State Historic Preservation Officer, the Director of San Juan County Public Works, and each of the San Juan County Commissioners need to hear from you! Tell them how you feel and request that NEPA/Section 106 regulations be enforced. If you chose to write a letter, please CC: the other parties listed below in each correspondence.  

    State Historic Preservation Officer, Kak Slick

    Phone # 505-827-4044 or email: k.slick@state.nm.us

    Director of San Juan County Public Works, Dave Keck

    Phone # 505-334-4520 or email: dkeck@sjcounty.net

    San Juan County Commissioners: Phone # 505-334-3168 (same for all commissioners)

    Wallace Charley, email: wcharley@sjcounty.net

    Ervin Chavez, email: chavez15@earthlink.net

    Keith Johnson, email: kejohnson@sjcounty.net

    James Henderson, email: hendersonj@sjcounty.net

    Tony Atkinson, email: tatkinson@sjcounty.net

    The letter the society has voted to send regarding chaco canyon's proposed road paving issue.

    The Albuquerque Archaeological Society has recently learned about the proposal to pave County Road 7950 leading into Chaco Canyon. Our membership is deeply concerned about this proposal and the adverse effects this would have on Chaco Canyon, if completed.

    Among our primary concerns are the impacts that would result from the rise in visitation to the park and the subsequent development that would come with a paved road. A paved road to Chaco will increase visitation to the park, putting strains on fragile park resources and staff. Anticipated consequences of this would be a rise in vandalism, concerns for the integrity of ancient standing structures, and insufficient staff numbers to educate visitors and provide for resource protection and management. Furthermore, a paved road to Chaco Canyon will undoubtedly result in increased development along the roadway. This means more traffic, more structures, and more lights. As you know, one of Chaco’s prized resources is its history of archaeoastronomy and the dark night sky that has been safeguarded over the centuries by its remote location. Paving the road will significantly and irreparably degrade this unique resource of the Southwest.

    On behalf of the Albuquerque Archaeological Society, I urge you to consider these serious concerns that will threaten one of the region’s greatest cultural treasures.


    Dara Saville
    President, Albuquerque Archaeological Society

    CC: San Juan County Commissioners James Henderson, Ervin Chavez, Wallace Charley, Keith Johnson, and Tony Atkinson; Director of San Juan County Public Works; Archaeological Society of New Mexico; Dona Ana Archaeological Society; San Juan Archaeological Society; Santa Fe Archaeological Society; Taos Archaeological Society; El Paso Archaeological Society; Plateau Sciences Society; Friends of Tijeras Pueblo; New Mexico Archaeological Council; Historical Society of New Mexico; New Mexico State Historic Preservation Officer; Chaco Canyon National Historical Park Superintendent

  • From Lynne Sebastian (combination of two communications)

    Hi everyone, I have been providing some pro bono assistance to a citizen's group that is trying to get the Federal Highway Administration to acknowledge and evaluate the potential effects of paving CR 7950 on Chaco Culture National Historic Park. They have been informed by the New Mexico Division Administrator that FHWA plans to treat this project as a Categorical Exclusion under NEPA.

    The group that I have been assisting has written to the Division Administrator arguing that it is not appropriate for FHWA to evaluate this project as a CE because it meets at least two and possibly three of the criteria for "unusual circumstances" in FHWA's NEPA regulation (23 CFR 771).

    With a little help from their pro bono counsel, they made the following arguments:

    1) that there is, in fact, substantial controversy about this project on environmental grounds; just because they and other concerned historic preservation and environmental groups are trying to work within the NEPA and NHPA public involvement process rather that mounting letter-writing and media campaigns, this does not mean that it isn't controversial.

    2) there is a huge potential for this project to have significant impacts on properties protected by Section 106 and , potentially, Section 4(f) as well

    3) since San Juan County, a subdivision of State government, is the applicant for these Federal funds there is the potential for issues related to state laws -- specifically the Cultural Properties Protection Act and the Prehistoric and Historic Sites Preservation Act.

    They also point out that EVEN IF this were to be treated as a Cat Ex under NEPA, NHPA requires full consideration of the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the undertaking on historic properties.

    For those who might be interested in writing to the Division Administrator urging FHWA to prepare an Environmental Assessment for this project, his name and address appear below along with the appropriate section of the FHWA NEPA reg.

    Lynne Sebastian

    J. Don Martinez
    Division Administrator
    US Department of Transportation
    Federal Highway Administration
    New Mexico Division
    604 West San Mateo Road
    Santa Fe NM 87505

    Section 771.117(b) of the regulation says:
    (b) Any action which normally would be classified as a CE but could involve unusual circumstances will require the Administration, in cooperation with the applicant, to conduct appropriate environmental studies to determine if the CE classification is proper. Such unusual circumstances include:
    (1) Significant environmental impacts.
    (2) Substantial controversy on environmental grounds.
    (3) Significant impacts on properties protected by Section 4(f) of the DOT Act or section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act; or
    (4) Inconsistencies with any Federal, State, or local law requirement or administrative determination relating to the environmental aspects of the action.

    From Paul Reed

    To follow-up the current Chaco road thread, here's where things stand:

    1. The dirt work is well underway and nearly finished on the first 4 miles of CR 7950 (the Chaco road);
    2. Paving - "chip-sealing" is immient. Materials are piled in the road and ready to go.
    3. For the one site on Navajo Nation land (in the first 4 mile segment), monitoring will occur during construction activities.
    4. The other sites on BLM land adjacent to the road bed are not scheduled for monitoring.
    5. The 4-mile section of road is apparently not considered a 106 Section undertaking for the BLM land. This apparently relates to the project's occurrence within an existing ROW.


  • Albuquerque Archaeological Society
    P.O. Box 4029
    Albuquerque, NM 87196

    Contact us at: info@abqarchaeology.org
    Webmaster: markrosenm@msn.com