Closed parks but drilling open?

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As the seasons turn to fall, many of us here in New Mexico typically head to Bandelier National Monument before the cold rolls in. However, as a result of the government shutdown, our national parks, wildlife refuges and national forests all across New Mexico are closed to any and all visitors.
Bandelier National Monument typically sees a flood of visitors in October who come to experience the beauty of its cliff dwellings, or spend a last night under the stars. Last year in October alone more than 125,000 people visited New Mexico’s national parks. This year they will arrive greeted by closed gates and empty ranger stations.
What’s worse is a majority of personnel from the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are temporarily out of work, halting many of our nation’s critical clean air and clean water programs. Despite this lack of environmental oversight, most public lands and waters remain open to oil, gas, and mining operations, further threatening their well-being.
Having the doors close on “America’s best idea” is bad enough, but keeping our public lands and parks open to private mining and gas drilling companies who are polluting these treasured landscapes in spite of these closures is truly deplorable.
To his credit, Rep. Ben Ray Luján has been calling to end the shutdown and reopen national treasures, like our parks, to the public. I hope he continues to support a budget, which restores funding to New Mexico’s parks and gives our agencies the resources they need to keep our air and water clean and our parks and forests protected from pollution and development.
Dominick Lawton
Environment New Mexico