DENVER (AP) — The U.S. government is delaying a decision on a contentious proposal to allow oil and gas drilling near Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado.

The Bureau of Land Management said Tuesday it will consult with the Navajo Nation, which owns property in the area, before deciding whether to sell drilling rights on 29 square miles of public land east of the park.

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(credit: Sand Dunes National Park / Facebook)

The bureau originally planned to auction the rights on Sept. 6, but Navajo officials requested a formal consultation first, and the agency agreed.

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A spokesman for the Navajos didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Environmental groups opposed the sale, saying the land is too close to the park, a wilderness area and wildlife habitat.

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