Petrified Forest National Park Superintendent Brad Traver said today that he wished the Holbrook basin potash deposit was 20 miles away rather than much of it being centered under the Park but that given the reality of the situation, the Park will work with the mining companies to make a "win-win" situation. Brad gave the luncheon address at the 5th Annual Little Colorado River Resource Conservation & Development Winter Watershed Conference in Show Low.
The win-win situation he referred to is if the mining companies surface operations are outside the boundaries of the Park set by Congress and the park can acquire the the surface rights to private and State lands to infill to those boundaries. He said that a split estate of the land with the Park owning the surface rights and the companies owning the mineral rights, would allow mining underneath Park-owned lands and preserve the surface paleontological and archeological resources for the Park. He stated that "seems to be compatible" with their management of the Park. [Right, AZGS potash core hole viewer, showing park lands in purple, extended boundary in heavy line, and core holes as circles]
Brad said that American West Potash has made the commitment to put all their surface operations well outside the current Park extended boundary to the southeast. Passport Potash is not far enough along in their planning to know where their operations might be based. Ken Bond of Passport was in the audience and said he was confident that his company can "co-exist with Petrified Forest National Park."
No mining can take place under Park lands where the mineral rights are owned by the Park Service, under a 1977 federal law that applies to all parks.