Study details environmental effects of early Chaco residents

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Researchers at the University of Cincinnati say they have more evidence that Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico was more than just an ancient gathering spot for ceremonies and rituals.

The researchers used pollen and botanical analysis along with mapping to chart the environmental impacts of the early residents who called the area home.

Their findings focus on changes to the environment due to tree harvesting needed to sustain daily life at Chaco. They reported a gradual degradation of the surrounding woodlands beginning around 600 B.C., much earlier than previously thought.

Made up of massive stone structures, Chaco is a national park and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.