Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park


The purposes for which the park was established as articulated in the 1923 Enabling Legislation, the 1978 Wilderness designation, and the 1996 General Management Plan guide management at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Those purposes include:

Protecting caves within Carlsbad Caverns National Park;

Preserving the park's natural state and scenic features;

Providing enjoyment and benefits for the public;

Managing wilderness areas in accordance with the Wilderness Act;

Preventing damage, destruction, or removal of park features;

Managing the park in accordance with the Organic Act; and

Protecting Lechuguilla Cave and other resources in and adjacent to the park.

The National Park Service prepares a variety of planning and environmental documents to help guide it in managing park resources. These documents can range from site-specific impact analyses on facility locations to broader park-wide plans for future use and management of a park. The Planning, Environment, and Public Comment ( ) site contains all of the currently active plans and environmental documents for the National Park Service.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park produces a number of planning documents in the course of careful deliberations about park management issues. Following are planning and other associated documents the park has completed in the last few years.

Air Quality

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a moderately sized park located within the desert southwest and preserves a portion of the northern Chihuahuan Desert. As with many areas throughout the United States, maintaining an excellent air quality is critical to preserving and protecting the natural resources found within the park. Through the Clean Air Act of 1970 and subsequent amendments, the park is classified as a Class 1 air quality area. This classification helps protect the air quality of the park at the highest level.

There are numerous human-made pollution sources that may impact air quality at the park and within the region. These include (but are not limited to) power generating plants within the region, the many producing oil and gas wells within the area, and nearby refineries. Air quality can also be affected by natural conditions such as when strong winds from the west create huge dust storms that drop visibility significantly in the area. Despite growing concerns over air quality and pollution at the park, there are still a number of days when visibility is excellent with views of the Davis Mountains located 140 miles south of the park from the visitor center.

With oil and gas activities increasing in the Black River valley to the south of the park, the National Park Service has recently installed a Portable Ozone Monitoring Site (POMS) unit to record ozone levels during the warm months of the year.

For current ozone measurements, visit (

For an excellent report and overview of park air quality information (October 2003), visit (

To review the 2001 Air Emissions Inventory from within the park (June 2003), visit (