Regional
10:59 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Shutdown Forces Closure Of New Mexico BLM Recreation Sites

As a result of the Federal government shutdown, essentially all services provided by the Bureau of Land Management will be suspended, with the exception of law enforcement and emergency response functions.  Approximately 4,000 recreation facilities, including visitor centers, facilities, campgrounds, boat ramps and other recreation sites will be closed.  

With an estimated $4.8 billion in revenues in 2012, the BLM nationally returns more than four dollars for every budget dollar it receives.  The BLM manages 245 million acres – more than any of the nation’s major natural resource agencies, with the smallest budget, the fewest employees, and the lowest cost. 

While the BLM will maintain the minimum staffing levels required to ensure continued safe management of the nation’s energy resources, issuing new oil and gas leases and permits will cease.  Limited work will continue to ensure safe operations of domestic energy supplies, including inspection and enforcement activities for more than 33,800 oil and gas wells on federal BLM lands in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. 

Recreation activities on BLM-managed lands will be similarly impacted.  Public lands receive more than 57 million visitors every year, contributing more than $7 billion to local economies. In FY2012, BLM New Mexico received about 1.5 million visitors contributing more than $140,000,000 to local economies. 

In New Mexico, BLM closures include Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, all designated campgrounds including those in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area, and El Malpais National Conservation Area, and all BLM recreation areas and visitor centers.

The BLM New Mexico will furlough 754 of its approximate 817 employees during the funding lapse. The Federal Helium Program, managed out of the BLM Amarillo Field Office, is not currently affected by the lapse of appropriations. After the initial shutdown procedures are completed, the BLM New Mexico will maintain a total of 17 excepted employees with an additional 78 employees on call.

Suspended activities and services will include:

·         non-emergency Abandoned Mine Land and hazardous-materials mitigation

·         processing of oil and gas drilling permits

·         processing of lease sales, permits and other non-emergency authorizations of onshore oil

 and gas, coal and other minerals

·         permits and approvals for renewable energy and other rights-of -way issuances

·         Endangered Species Act and cultural clearances

·         range management restoration

·         wild horse and burro adoptions

·         sand and gravel permits

·         timber sales

·         work on resource management plans, including those driven by court deadlines

Suspended activities will resume once Congressional approves a budget for Fiscal Year 2014.

Because the BLM website will not be maintained for the duration of the shutdown, the BLM will be re-directing to Interior’s site, where additional information will be available at www.DOI.gov/shutdown as well as at OPM.gov.

The BLM is responsible for managing over 13 million acres in New Mexico, the largest federal land manager in the state.  In case of an emergency, please call the number for BLM New Mexico identified on the Department of Interior’s website at www.doi.gov