The BLM’s final proposal for the sale, published on
The cave system, with numerous fragile karst formations is connected to the Capitan Reef aquifer, and BLM officials with the
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“A number of the parcels proposed for deferral under the Alternative B are thought to be connected to
“Moreover, a subset of parcels are also within the boundary of the
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Some of the parcels were within a mile of the national park boundaries, records show, and environmental groups voiced concerns that the parcels for lease were imposing on the natural landforms that made
“Another subset of parcels proposed for deferral under Alternative B are located on cave or karst features and or lie within a mile of
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“Under Alternative B, 31 parcels that are known to occur on cave and karst would be deferred from leasing. Thus, potential impacts to cave and karst features within these 31 parcels would be avoided under this alternative.”
But some environmentalists are unconvinced the move will protect the Caverns.
“Wish you weren’t drilling here!” read the sign, which also listed a website: dontdrillourparks.org.
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The signage was part of a national campaign created by the Center that will see similar billboards set up near
The website lists other national parks and monuments considered “at risk,” and solicited the public to submit any other lands that could be targeted by the campaign.
Spokesman for the center
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“It’s good they deferred as of last Monday,” he said. “But until (the parcels) are formally withdrawn, they’re still a threat. They could reappear in a later sale, so we consider them a threat.”
Miller questioned if the BLM did enough research to derive the potential impacts of the operations near the national park and underground cave system.
Much of the system is yet undiscovered, but is connected to the city’s water table, he said, meaning experts do not know the extent of the its vulnerability.
“The BLM hasn’t had enough time to flesh out the impacts drilling could have on that cave system, and water supplies,” Miller said.
Aside from drinking water, Miller said operations that close to the park could inhibit visitation, and such a proposal suggested the BLM is looking out for industry concerns, not those of the American people.
“Some places are too special to drill,” he said. “If these leases did happen it would impact visitors.”
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He pointed to public comment periods shortened from 30 to 10 days, while the BLM was required to hold quarterly lease sales, even nominating parcels itself if the industry did not.
“The administration had done a number of things to cut out the public,” Miller said. “(The original proposal) says (the BLM) is catering to oil and gas companies and not considering the greater impact to the American public.”
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He said visitors to the park at night often mistake nearby oil and gas developments with the
Such proximity, Neighbor said, could ruin the viewshed of the park.
“I had some concerns,” he said of the initial proposed sale. “At night it already looks like there’s a city out there. It’s a visual intrusion for our dark sky.”
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Neighbor said most of the parcels proposed near the park — some within a half mile of the park’s boundary — surrounded the
He said the NPS works closely with the BLM to address these concerns, and develop the federal agency’s Carlsbad Resource Management Plan (RMP).
“I look at proximity,” Neighbor said. “If it’s within five miles, I may talk about it in my response. When I see these, I comment. We let them know what the impact could have at the park.
“It’s my responsibility to ensure our resources are unimpaired for future generations, that there’s no degradation that cannot be restored.”
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