Courtesy Photo
The decision comes as the National Park Service weighs a proposal that would allow extra federal protection to limit or prevent tapping geothermal energy on land surrounding the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
SFNF says no to geothermal drilling

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE — Underground pockets of boiling water and steam that could have been tapped to produce electricity are now off limits as one national forest in northern New Mexico has said no to the prospect of geothermal development.

The decision by the Santa Fe National Forest follows years of study and public testimony after a Nevada-based company and others had shown interest in leasing areas with geothermal resources within the Jemez Mountains – a tourist draw that includes a national preserve and a neighboring monument.

Santa Fe National Forest wrote in a decision made public Thursday that the area also includes places held sacred by Native American tribes.

Forest Supervisor James Melonas’ decision covers more than 300 square miles of the mountainous terrain even though the companies had interest in only a fraction of that.

Melonas said geothermal energy development could have potential effects on forest resources, recreational opportunities and tribal cultural and spiritual interests. His office consulted with more than 30 tribes from around the American Southwest and held two listening sessions with tribal leaders.