Secretary Haaland protects sacred, sensitive lands in New Mexico


Bureau of Land Management

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A blue New Mexico sky over Placitas with a Cholla cactus in the foreground.

PLACITAS, N.M. — During a community event in Sandoval County today, 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 final mineral withdrawal protects, preserves, and promotes the scenic integrity, cultural importance, recreational values and wildlife habitat connectivity of the lands 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 found from nearly every settlement period of the past 10,000 years,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The site contains significant cultural ties to neighboring Pueblos and provides outdoor recreation opportunities to the local community. I appreciate the work of so many people who came together to ensure that future generations will be able to continue to enjoy the beauty and unique values of these special lands.”  

Today’s 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 nation that sustain the health of our communities, power local economies and help combat climate change. 

The Pueblos of San Felipe and Santa Ana have long sought protections for the Placitas area, which they consider ancestral and sacred lands. The site, located near the Albuquerque metro area, also provides close-to-home outdoor recreation opportunities 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 has also been reintroduced recently in the House and Senate.  

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

To view the analysis and Public Land Order, please visit the BLM National NEPA Register, which will be updated upon notice publication in the Federal Register.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.