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Scenic views and native vegetation images from parks within Chihuahuan Desert Network.

Air Quality at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

What’s in the Air?

Map of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns NP, New Mexico

Most visitors who come to national parks expect clean air and clear views. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (NP), New Mexico, a wonder of canyons, shrublands, and more than 100 caves beneath the surface, enjoys moderately good air quality due in part to the rural setting of the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert. However, there are some nearby and regional sources of air pollution, including oil and gas operations, mineral extraction and processing, agricultural activities, refineries, and power plants. These air pollutants can harm the park’s natural and scenic resources such as soils, surface waters, vegetation, viewsheds, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Carlsbad Caverns National Park?

  • Fine particles of air pollution cause haze in the park, affecting how well and how far visitors can see vistas and landmarks. more »
  • Ozone concentrations in the park are elevated to levels known to cause injury to sensitive humans and plants, but dry conditions may limit ozone uptake and injury in plants. more »
  • Nitrogen is carried by rain, snow and dry particles into park ecosystems, and is approaching levels known to affect shrublands, grasslands, and lichen communities. more »
  • Mercury and pesticides like DDT can arrive from airborne pathways and once deposited, can threaten wildlife – and particularly, bat – health at the park. more »

What is the National Park Service doing about air pollution at the park?

  • Monitoring ozone to assess status and trends. more »
  • Working with the Western Regional Air Partnership, a group of state, federal, and local agencies, and tribes, to develop strategies to reduce regional air pollution and protect and restore park resources. The NPS also reviews plans for development that may increase air pollution in national parks.  more »
  • Transitioning toward environmentally-friendly vehicles, and adapting park facilities and infrastructure to conserve energy. more »

Featured Content

Impacts icon

Pollutants including nitrogen, sulfur, ozone, and fine particles affect resources such as soils and scenic vistas. Find out how on our Carlsbad Caverns NP Air Pollution Impacts web page.

Studies and Monitoring icon

Studies and monitoring help the NPS understand the environmental impacts of air pollution. Access air quality data and see what is happening with Studies and Monitoring at Carlsbad Caverns NP.

Related Links

Last Updated: December 30, 2016