The Santa Fe National Forest's decision protects the unique thermal features in Valles Caldera National Preserve
SANTA FE, NM – The Santa Fe National Forest finalized a decision to prohibit energy development on 195,000 acres of land adjacent to Valles Caldera National Preserve. The lands have been under consideration since 2015 to be leased for geothermal development.
Valles Caldera National Preserve is one of the newest units in the National Park System and contains some of the most extensive geothermal activity in the West, including hot springs, bubbling mudpots and steaming fumaroles. The most active geothermal features in the caldera are on a 40-acre private inholding that NPCA, working with a conservation buyer, protected from additional development and is now working its way through a transfer of ownership to the Park Service.
Statement by Ernie Atencio, New Mexico Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association
“We applaud the Santa Fe National Forest leadership for removing land near Valles Caldera National Preserve from consideration for geothermal development. National Parks Conservation Association, area tribes and other conservation groups have long-called for protections to the unique geothermal landscape around Valles Caldera. The agency made the correct decision to prioritize protecting these significant thermal features and important wildlife habitat over profits.
“Valles Caldera’s hot springs are smaller-scale versions of the iconic, vibrant waters in Yellowstone National Park. Introducing geothermal energy development here would be inappropriate and irresponsible. Although geothermal energy is a valuable renewable energy resource, the development could have dried up many of the features that make Valles Caldera so unique. NPCA continues to advocate for stronger protection of the Preserve through “unique thermal feature” designation—as at Yellowstone—under the Geothermal Steam Act.
“We are grateful that the Santa Fe National Forest supervisor addressed these concerns with today’s decision and are optimistic that we can continue to work together to protect this special area.”
About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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