March 7, 2023
JEMEZ SPRING — Valles Caldera National Preserve and New Mexico Gas Company achieved a significant milestone in the retirement of a natural gas pipeline in the park. Last fall, above-ground infrastructure—two block valves, cathodic protection units, mileposts, and pipeline markers—were removed. To prevent the pipe from capturing and redirecting water over time, sections that cross perennial waterways were injected with concrete.
The 12-inch diameter pipeline was built in the 1940s by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to transport natural gas from the San Juan Basin to Los Alamos National Laboratory. New Mexico Gas Company retired and began decommissioning the DOE pipeline following the construction of a new 20-inch pipeline between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
“Decommissioning the pipeline goes a long way to restoring the habitat and values of Valle San Antonio and Valle Toledo, while protecting important watersheds,” VCNP Superintendent Jorge Silva-Bañuelos said. “We appreciate New Mexico Gas Company’s commitment to renewing the natural environment in the park.”
Valles Caldera is working with New Mexico Gas Company on a restoration plan that reduces erosion coming from the pipeline access road, reconnects wetlands, and creates a surface that allows for natural revegetation.
“The now-retired pipeline runs through scenic mountains, which feature many sensitive environmental areas, including critical habitat for two federally endangered species, multiple cultural resources, and several pristine streams,” said New Mexico Gas Company President Ryan Shell. “Environmental protection is a core value for New Mexico Gas Company and, of course, Valles Caldera National Preserve is at the heart of this special part of New Mexico.”
Additional details regarding the restoration plan will be released as the plan is completed.