On this day in 2001, the Carrizo Plain, Sonoran Desert, Pompeys Pillar, Upper Missouri River Breaks, and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monuments were established by Presidential Proclamation. 

CLICK HERE to learn more about the national monuments managed by the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.

Photo by Bob Wick, BLM


This Wilderness Wednesday We Feature Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in New Mexico

The 41,170-acre Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a remote desolate area of steeply eroded badlands which offers some of the most unusual scenery found in the Four Corners region. Time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations and fossils. It is an ever-changing environment that offers the visitor a remote wilderness experience. Translated from the Navajo language, Bisti means “a large area of shale hills” and is commonly pronounced (Bis-tie). De-Na-Zin (Deh-nah-zin) takes its name from the Navajo words for “cranes.” Petroglyphs of cranes have been found south of the wilderness area.

The two major geological formations found in the wilderness are the Fruitland Formation and the Kirtland Shale. The Fruitland Formation makes up most of what you can see while in the badlands and contains interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt. The weathering of the sandstone forms the many spires and hoodoos (sculpted rock) found throughout the area. The Kirtland Shale contains rock of various colors and dominates the eastern part of the wilderness.

The BLM manages the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness to protect the area’s naturalness, special features, and opportunities for solitude and primitive types of recreation, such as hiking, backpacking, camping, wildlife viewing, photography, and horseback riding. Learn more:

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist


Vintage Poster Series: Río Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico

Go for a hike and listen for an eagle as it soars above an 800-foot gorge, fish in world-class trout waters, marvel at a herd of elk crossing the desolate plateau, or raft alongside the river otter. You have entered the natural world of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, featured in the new vintage poster series that celebrates our National Conservation Lands.

The landscape of this special place in northern New Mexico is a showcase of stark, wide open spaces covering 242,500 acres. At an average elevation of 7,000 feet, the monument is dotted by volcanic cones and cut by steep canyons. While the Río Grande carves a deep gorge through layers of volcanic basalt flows and ash, nearby cottonwoods and willows shelter abundant songbirds and waterfowl. An amazing array of wildlife lives among the piñon and juniper woodlands and the mountaintops of ponderosa, Douglas fir, aspen, and spruce. 

Since prehistoric times this area has attracted human activity, as evidenced by petroglyphs, prehistoric dwelling sites, and many other types of archaeological discoveries. Abandoned homesteads from the 1930s reflect more recent activity. On March 25, 2013, a Presidential proclamation designated the area a national monument, managed by the BLM. 

Download your copy of the new Rio Grande del Norte vintage poster from our Flickr site:


Check out the feature article about Organ Mountains—Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico.

The 496,330 acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was established on May 21, 2014, by Presidential Proclamation. The BLM-managed national monument includes four distinct areas: the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains, and Doña Ana Mountains.

While all four areas offer unique recreational opportunities, the most developed portion of the monument is the Organ Mountains which is the location of the Visitor Center at Dripping Springs. The Organ Mountains are a steep, angular mountain range with rocky spires that jut majestically above the Chihuahuan Desert floor to an elevation of 9,000 feet. It is so named because the needle-like spires resemble the pipes of an organ. This picturesque area of rocky peaks, narrow canyons, and open woodlands ranges from Chihuahuan Desert habitat to ponderosa pine in the highest elevations. Located adjacent to and on the east side of Las Cruces, this part of the Monument provides many opportunities for photography, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, and wildlife viewing. There are several recreation areas within the Monument including the Dripping Springs Natural Area, the Aguirre Spring Campground, four National Recreation Trails, and many miles of hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking trails.

CLICK HERE to plan your visit and #SeeBLM.

Photos by Lisa Phillips, BLM New Mexico


Beautiful Views from the Continental Divide WSA

The Continental Divide Wilderness Study Area is located in the east-central part of New Mexico. The landmark of this area is Pelona Mountain, rising to 9,212 feet. Rolling grassland gives way to steeper slopes covered in piñon pine woodland and ponderosa pine forest, although the summit of the mountain itself is mostly grassland. Views from the top of Pelona Mountain stretch out for miles across the surrounding plains.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail passes through this WSA. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Photos by Bob Wick, Wilderness Specialist for the BLM’s National Conservation Lands


Ancient Turtle Fossil Discovered on BLM Land in New Mexico 

A 90-million-year-old turtle fossil has been found in Sierra County, New Mexico, on BLM-managed land in the Crevasse Canyon Formation. The fossil was found by Jeff Dornbusch, a volunteer with the Geronimo Springs Museum in Truth or Consequences. 

In late spring 2014, Dornbusch approached BLM Las Cruces District Archaeologist Jim Renn about the fossil. Through BLM Regional Paleontologist Phil Gensler, Renn contacted Dr. Spencer Lucas with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Spencer confirmed that the fossilized turtle is, in fact, 90 million years old. 

In late October, the group recovered the findings. They collected loose pieces of bone and shell, then dug around the turtle shell, and placed plaster around the specimen for transport. 

The specimen has been identified as Adocus, an extinct aquatic turtle, and it now resides at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque where it is undergoing further examination. Although the species is commonly found in the San Juan Basin of northern New Mexico, this specimen marks the most southern discovery in the state, and may tell us a little more about the area’s ecosystem in ancient times. 


BLM 2014 HIGHLIGHTS: We Added National Monument Lands to the BLM’s National Conservation Lands 

The 496,330 acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico was established on May 21, 2014 to protect an iconic mountain range along with biologically and culturally significant desert landscape. 

The Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands were added to the California Coastal National Monument in March 2014. The designation protected approximately 1,665 additional acres of stunning northern California coastline to the monument.

The National Conservation Lands - also called the National Landscape Conservation System - conserves, protects, and restores nationally-significant landscapes and places that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations. These lands include 900 areas (more than 30 million acres) of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, and other federally-designated special places. 

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

This Wilderness Wednesday, we bring you a photo of the Organ Mountains by Lisa Phillips.

The Organ Mountains Wilderness Study Area is located in south-central New Mexico on the eastern edge of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The Organ Mountains range from 4,600 to just over 9,000 feet, and are so named because of the steep, needle-like spires that resemble the pipes of an organ.

Learn more about the area:


This week, wilderness partners, stewards, educators, students and researchers gather in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the National Wilderness Conference. Several attendees began their celebration of public lands and the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act with a night under the stars and fresh morning view, along the Rio Grande. True inspiration! 

Photos by Bob Wick, Wilderness Specialist for BLM’s National Conservation Lands


Mammoth Tusk Found by Grazing Permittees in BLM New Mexico

Tom and Sissy Olney, Bureau of Land Management grazing permittees in New Mexico, recently reported that a possible mammoth tusk was eroding out of an arroyo bank on BLM land within their grazing allotment.

BLM New Mexico State Paleontologist Phil Gensler and Gary Morgan of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History in Albuquerque partially excavated and stabilized the tusk. Gensler and Morgan, with assistance from the Olneys and their seven-year-old granddaughter Jenna Rose, finished excavating the tusk on June 26. The tusk was then taken to the Natural History Museum in Albuquerque for further stabilization and analysis. 

The nearly complete tusk is about 5 feet long, which probably means that it was from a juvenile male or a female mammoth. Tusks of full-grown males can reach 10 feet in length. Though there is no way to determine the age of this tusk, mammoths went extinct in North America about 11,000 years ago. 

Story and photos by BLM New Mexico

Historically, several human cultures have tried to carve a living from Ojito’s rugged terrain, rocky soils and scarce water supply. Although several types of ruins exist within the area, including those of the Anasazi, Navajo, and Hispanic cultures, very few historical records exist concerning their lives here.

Fossil remains of rare dinosaurs, plants and trees have been discovered in the Ojito Wilderness. They are found in the 150 million-year-old Jurassic Age Morrison Formation. Because these fossil remains of plants and animals provide critical information about life during this period, it is very important that they remain undisturbed in place until they can be collected and studied by professional paleontologists. Collection of these fossils is prohibited unless authorized by permit.

Deep meandering arroyos offer miles of terrain in which to wander. Rock layers in the canyon walls and cliffs enhance sightseeing and photography. Hiking, backpacking, sightseeing and horseback riding, to name a few, can all be enjoyed without a permit in this remote, secluded area. Primitive camping is also allowed, but permits are required for most other uses (for example, outfitting/guiding or commercial filming).

Learn more:

Photo by Bob Wick, BLM 


The Mount Riley Wilderness Study Area is located in southern New Mexico approximately 30 miles southwest of Las Cruces. The WSA is comprised of three volcanic cinder cones approximately 1,500 feet high. Vegetation consists of desert grasses and shrubs. There are no maintained trails to the summits; however, hikers are rewarded with 360 degree views from the top.

Learn more:

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM


#WILDERNESS50 - #YOURWILDERNESS is a hotspot for avian and mammalian diversity

Many of BLM’s resources and ecosystems are truly remarkable and offer enrichment to the National Wilderness Preservation System.  For example, the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness has produced a wealth of paleontological resources including the skull of the tyranasaurid dinosaur, also known as the Bisti Beast, that have given scientists insight into the evolution of these large predatory animals, and a duck-billed dinosaur in such a state of preservation that they were able to replicate it’s nasal chamber to reproduce dinosaur sounds.

In southwest New Mexico, the Gila Lower Box Wilderness Study Area is a hotspot for avian diversity with 265 bird species documented while Cowboy Springs WSA is home to over 60 species of mammals making it one of the most significant areas for mammalian diversity in the region. These are just a few examples of the wealth of public benefits BLM’s wilderness lands provide. These areas belong to you, the public, and I encourage everyone to get out and experience these special places. — Jesse Juen, BLM New Mexico State Director

BLM New Mexico employees, local residents and visitors enjoy diverse and rugged wilderness areas managed by the BLM, like the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, Gila Lower Box Wilderness Study Area and the Continental Divide WSA pictured here. Photos by Bob Wick and Mike Howard, BLM


Lake Valley Historic Site, BLM New Mexico

The mining town of Lake Valley was founded in 1878 after silver was discovered. Almost overnight, the small frontier town blossomed into a major settlement with a population of 4,000 people. Today, silver mining has played out and all that remains is a ghost town. BLM has restored the schoolhouse and chapel. The restored schoolhouse provides a glimpse of what schooling in a rural area was like in the early 20th century. Other buildings in the town site have been stabilized to slow further deterioration. There also is a self-guided, interpretive walking tour.

Watch a video about Lake Valley’s history:; Then plan a visit:

Happy Memorial Day weekend from your new national monument!

We’re kicking off Memorial Day Weekend with a beautiful shot of your new national monument. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was established on May 21, 2014, by Presidential Proclamation, and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Monument includes 496,330 acres, and was established to protect significant prehistoric, historic, geologic, and biologic resources of scientific interest. 

This weekend, get outside with family and friends and enjoy your public lands!  #backyard2backcountry

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist


#TBThursday from BLM Las Cruces: Eugene Van Patten’s Mountain Resort pictured in the late 1800s and today. 

The resort was built in the 1870s and was a popular place for locals to visit and get out of the summer heat. Today visitors can still “retreat” from the heat and hike up to the ruins at the top of Dripping Springs Trail in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico.

CLICK HERE to learn about Dripping Springs.



Bureau of Land Management - New Mexico
recently held its 6th annual employee photo contest! Follow along for the next two weeks as they showcase the winners in the following categories on their BLM-New Mexico Facebook page:

  1. Wildlife (Mammals)
  2. Wildlife (Other than Mammals)
  3. Plants
  4. Recreation
  5. Work of the BLM (i.e. Restore New Mexico, Activities to Improve Public Lands, Employees at Work, Youth Engagement/ Programs)
  6. Landscapes/ Natural Features
  7. Historic/ Cultural/ Paleontology 
  8. BLM-New Mexico Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas (In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act)