Editorial: Park road tied up federal, tribal red tape
"The Chaco Culture National Historical Park draws about 60,000 visitors to the unique ruins each year.

Much of Chaco's uniqueness is derived from the fact that it is hard to access the road leading to this hidden gem.

While this may sound like a great adventure to some, the road has become so deteriorated it is difficult to traverse and for some vehicles impossible and dangerous.

The badly eroded and washboarded road lays atop soft sand, a combination of hazards lending itself to unsafe driving conditions, bone jarring bumps and loss of vehicular control at some speeds.

The last three miles of the road lay on Navajo Nation land, which offers San Juan County no chance of right-of-way options. Trying to obtain easements could cost the county as much as $100,000, plus the cost of a survey that's estimated at $52,000 more.

Commissioner Ervin Chavez, whose constituents live on Navajo Nation land, said some of the road's residents suggested the county cut its losses and simply stabilize the existing road.

"It's also frustrating working with the Navajo departmental people who play the right-of-way game with us," he said. "The (Navajo) department won't approve an easement when the road has already been there for 100 years."

"The whole project is frustrating. This money was appropriated 25 years ago and now it's not available because of lots of vested interests and red tape," Commissioner James Henderson said. "This is simple blackmail.""

Get the Story:
Editorial: Federal, tribal red tape keeps Chaco road in ruin (The Farmington Daily Times 9/23)