- Associated Press - Friday, December 27, 2019

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Senate has passed a package of bills signed by President Donald Trump that includes enacting a buffer zone around a national park in New Mexico protecting it from oil and gas leasing activities.

The 2020 federal spending package was passed last week and gives the Chaco Culture National Historical Park a 10-mile (16-kilometer) buffer zone, Farmington Daily Times reported Tuesday.

No federal funds can be used to accept a nomination for oil and gas leasing in the zone until a cultural resources investigation is completed, officials said.

The buffer zone protects ancient roads and significant cultural resources pending needed studies and consultation with tribal communities, advocates said.

The bill also includes $4 million for continued water quality monitoring in areas impacted by the Gold King Mine spill and allocates $8 million in funding for tribal law enforcement, officials said.

It is a bipartisan Interior funding bill that makes major investments in public lands and environmental protection, some senators said.

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