Mineral Withdrawal Requested to Protect Caves

Cave on the Guadalupe Ranger DistrictThe Forest Service filed an application with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) New Mexico State Office proposing to withdraw (aka remove) 28,513.30 acres of National Forest system land from mineral exploration and development (aka mining and oil & gas) to protect and preserve the Guadalupe Cave Resource Protection Area on the Guadalupe Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest in Eddy County, New Mexico. 

The new 20-year mineral withdrawal application is necessary to protect the sensitive and abundant caves in the Guadalupe Cave Resource Protection Area, located within the Guadalupe Mountain escarpment region between the Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. (See map below). The land will remain open to all other uses legally allowed on National Forest System land. 

Guadalupe Mining Withdrawal Map FINAL

The federal register notice immediately segregates the land for two years. The segregation period temporarily prevents new mining claims, new oil and gas leases, and other related mineral exploration and development, subject to valid existing rights for a two-year period. 

The BLM will evaluate the application and the Secretary of the Interior will make a decision to approve or deny the Forest Service application within the 2-year segregation period. 

More About Caves

The Lincoln National Forest has hundreds of caves. Caves ecosystems are easily susceptible to damage given how isolated they have been for millions of years. They are also one of the least known-about places on earth. Given the nature of mining, the Forest Service is concerned about accidental damage to caves and the fragile ecosystems that exist within them.

The Guadalupe Cave Resource Protection Area was previously withdrawn from mining and oil & gas exploration under Public Land Order 7479, but that 20-year mineral withdrawal expired in January 2021. 


Public Comments

All comments should be sent to the BLM New Mexico State Office, 301 Dinosaur Trail, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508, or email to snaranjo@blm.gov.The BLM will not consider comments received via telephone calls. The application and case file are available for public examination by interested persons by appointment at the BLM Public Room, 620 E Greene Street, Carlsbad, NM 88220 during regular business hours 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday except holidays. Please call Robert Gomez, Realty Supervisor, at (575) 234-5989 to review the application and case file at the BLM Public Room.

Comments and meeting requests must be received on or before April 25, 2022.

Public Meeting

The public is invited to a virtual public meeting to learn more about the proposed mining withdrawal.

When: February 23 at 5:30 pm Mountain Time 

Where: Virtual Microsoft Teams Meeting

How To Join:

  • Join on your computer by clicking https://bit.ly/3qxTtQR .
    (You will need a computer microphone if you wish to ask a question.)
  • Join by phone at 1-202-650-0123. Phone Conference ID: 602 974 510#. 
    (Please note you will not be able to view the presentation if you only join by phone.)