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The famous Giant Gap run of the even more famous North Fork American Wild and Scenic River is one of the most challenging runs in Northern California. Cliffs tower 2,000 feet above clear green streams smashing a path through rapids choked with boulders. Heaps of mine tailings and an old cabin ruin border the course of this roller coaster ride through the historic Mother Lode.

Learn more about this BLM-managed river: http://on.doi.gov/IsIKiq

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM

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This week, the Trust for Public Land donated nearly 6,000 acres of stunning coastal landscape in Santa Cruz County, California, that will now be managed by the BLM for public recreation and preservation of natural resources. Known as Coast Dairies land, the donation completes a long-term effort by partners and local communities to provide a natural landscape that can be experienced and enjoyed as public lands. 

BLM lands will connect the Coast Dairies shoreline beach, recently donated to California State Parks, to the Santa Cruz Mountains east of Highway 1. The landscape includes stunning coastal terraces, rolling pastoral grasslands, oak woodlands and redwood forest. Come #DiscoverTheCoast.

Photos by Jim Pickering, BLM

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#GetOutdoors and enjoy your public lands today!

Located off the 1,100 miles of California coastline, the BLM-managed California Coastal National Monument comprises more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles between Mexico and Oregon. The monument provides feeding and nesting habitat for an estimated 200,000 breeding seabirds as well as forage and breeding habitat for marine mammals including the southern sea otters and California sea lions.

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

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HAPPY EARTH DAY 2014!

In celebration of Earth Day 2014, the Bureau of Land Management is introducing three vintage posters and postcards depicting some of the spectacular landscapes of our National Conservation Lands. As a part of a continuing series, the purpose of the campaign is to highlight these ruggedly beautiful and culturally rich places that belong to all Americans. 

The inaugural posters and postcards artistically portray three different areas, illustrating the diversity of the landscapes protected under the system. They are Eagletail Mountains Wilderness Area in Arizona, Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana and Headwaters Forest Reserve in California.  

There are now nearly 900 designated areas of National Conservation Lands spanning almost 27 million acres – or 11 percent of the lands managed by BLM. They include national monuments, national conservation areas, wilderness and wilderness study areas, national wild and scenic rivers, national scenic trails and national historic trails. 

Learn more about your National Conservation Lands: http://on.doi.gov/19NBFQl

Last night’s blood moon as viewed along the American Wild and Scenic River in California, one of the few urban rivers in the U.S. to have a wild and scenic designation. The river flows from the Sierra crest to downtown Sacramento.  The BLM manages segments of the North and South forks of the river which are popular for whitewater boating and gold panning.  BLM photo.

Plan your visit at: http://on.doi.gov/IsIKiq

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Happy Arbor Day from the Headwaters Forest Reserve!

The Headwaters Forest Reserve is 7,472 acres of public land located 6 miles southeast of Eureka, California.  Established by the Headwaters Agreement of 1999, the Reserve was created after a 15 year effort to save the ancient ecosystem from being clearcut.  Today, the Reserve is set aside to protect and preserve the ecological and wildlife values in the area, particularly the stands of old-growth redwood that provide habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet, and the stream systems that provide habitat for threatened coho salmon.

History 

The area that is now the Headwaters Forest Reserve has a rich history of human occupation. The now-defunct town of Falk was once a bustling mill town located within the Headwaters Forest Reserve.

Headwaters was the site of widespread public protests from 1986 through 1999. Political activists and community members from the northern California region held rallies and pressured political officials to “Save Headwaters” from ongoing logging activities in the area. These efforts culminated in the acquisition by the federal government and the State of California of 7,472 acres in 1999. 

When Headwaters Forest Reserve was acquired, approximately 60% of the Reserve had been timber harvested. Once Headwaters was established, the Bureau of Land Management was tasked with restoring these harvested lands back to the natural conditions found in adjacent unharvested lands. This restoration work has included forest thinning, as well as decommissioning and re-planting of old logging roads.  

A Sensitive Ecosystem

Considered the last unprotected large stand of old-growth redwood forest, the Reserve was established based on the unique ecological values of the forest including, threatened and endangered species, old-growth forest ecosystems, and headwaters stream habitat.    

Today, the misty forest is a national preserve. Some of its trees are more than 320 feet tall — higher than the Statue of Liberty — and were growing during the Roman Empire.  In addition to the large redwoods, other forest trees in the Reserve include Douglas-fir, tanoak, Sitka spruce, western red cedar, western hemlock and red alder. There are limited distribution plants in the Reserve including the heart-shaped twayblade and Kellogg’s Lily.

Headwaters is the only forest reserve in the United States and is managed as a nature reserve of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System, designed to protect some of the most remarkable landscapes in the American West.

Download the BLM’s new vintage poster of the Headwaters Forest Reserve on our My Public Lands Flickr.

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Surfs Up! 

Spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife, and heartfelt connections - these are the natural ties between community residents and nature that combine to make the Bureau of Land Management’s California Coastal National Monument unique among the agency’s assemblage of National Conservation Lands.

Read  Surfs Up! - a feature article about the monument in the Bureau of Land Management’s My Public Lands Magazine, Summer 2014.  

Star Trails

The “star trails” image encompasses about 40 minutes of exposure time and captures the movement of the milky way (which is why the trails are so dense) with a Sierra Juniper in the foreground.

It was taken on my camping trip this weekend near the Slinkard Wilderness Study Area, California, of about 6,500 acres and tops out at around 8500 feet.  Its a great landscape for cross-country hiking with open stands of aspen, Jeffrey pine, and fir interspersed with sage.  Lone sentinels of one of my favorite trees, the Sierra Juniper, stand along the ridges and get gnarled by the winds. 

By Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist

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Happy National Lighthouse Day!  To celebrate, we’ll be sharing photos and the history of BLM-managed lighthouses and surrounding areas.

We begin with the Piedras Blancas lighthouse in California, first illuminated on February 15, 1875. The lighthouse was originally 100 feet tall. It housed a first order Fresnel lens that produced a fixed and flashing light that flashed every 15 seconds. In 1916 the lens was modified to produce a double flash every 15 seconds. A fog signal building was constructed in 1905 to produce an audio sound to help guide mariners. The first sound was used in 1906.

Earthquakes over the years had caused damage to the lighthouse. An earthquake on the last day of 1948 resulted in the upper part of the lighthouse being declared structurally unsound. In 1949 the upper three levels (fourth landing, watch room, and lantern) were removed, reducing the height of the tower to about 70 feet. 

The now Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area is currently managed by the BLM as a historic park and wildlife sanctuary. The waters off Piedras Blancas boast an incredible number of marine mammals. Sea otters live and forage in the kelp. Harbor seals and sea lions rest on the offshore rocks. Elephant seals rest, molt, give birth and breed on the beaches. A variety of whales may be seen, including the California gray whale migrating offshore during the winter and spring. Many marine bird species roost on the large offshore rocks. The sight of pelicans passing by delights the visitor and the sounds of sea lions barking and elephant seals trumpeting fill the air.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the area. 

Start the holiday weekend with a night under the stars at Amargosa Wild and Scenic River, located at the south end of California’s Tecopa Valley, east of the southeastern corner of Death Valley National Park. The area has a harsh climate, unobstructed views of desert mountains, and few human settlements.

The narrow Amargosa Canyon is known for its dense greenery and the shallow Amargosa River, complete with “hanging gardens” and a small waterfall. The river flows year-long, dropping south from Nevada, and finally flowing into Death Valley National Park.

Recreational activities in the area include hiking, bird watching, rock climbing, rock collecting, horseback riding, scenic touring, nature study, astronomy, and photography. Amargosa Canyon, with its wide open spaces, is a perfect place to seek tranquility. In contrast to the abundant off-highway vehicle opportunities available immediately to the south at Dumont Dunes, this area is appropriate to the serious hiker, horseback rider, and casual weekend explorer.

Learn more: http://on.doi.gov/1hyEDQO

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM

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King Range in Bloom

With the height of Spring upon us there is still time to get out and enjoy the wildflower season. The King Range provides several different types of habitat for wildflowers including beaches and dunes, cliffs and grasslands, and coastal forests. King Range trails provide access to help you and your friends get prime views of wildflowers.

I recommend the Spanish Ridge Trail for flowers that like cliffs and grasslands and the Horse Mountain Creek Trail to see coastal forest flowers.

As you follow trails or hike along the beach please remember to “Leave the Flowers.” By practicing Leave No Trace you”ll help to maintain wildflower viewing for others who come after you. 

I have seen so many great flowers this year and I’d like to share some with you. Enjoy and get outside!

-Justin Robbins

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Happy Wilderness Wednesday from the Mojave Wilderness!

This spring, the BLM completed the purchase of seven parcels within two Wilderness Areas in California - Sheephold Valley Wilderness and Old Woman Mountains Wilderness.  

The 183,500-acre Old Woman Mountains Wilderness is home to a granite monolith resembling the figure of an old woman, known as the Old Woman Statue. The Old Woman Mountains are also the discovery site of the Old Woman Meteorite, the largest meteorite found in California and the second largest in the United States.

The Wilderness encompasses many different habitats and is home to a permanent population of bighorn sheep, mule deer, bobcat, cougar, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbit, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, quail, chuckar, roadrunners, rattlesnakes, several species of lizards, numerous raptor species, several species of songbirds, and the threatened desert tortoise. 

The land, purchased through Land and Water Conservation Fund appropriations, protects a spectacular desert landscape. CLICK HERE. to learn more about the #LWCF. #LWCF50

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Today, we remember the brave men and women throughout our history who did not make it home, to celebrate their courage, mourn their loss, and appreciate what they did to help make this country a safer place.

Pictured above, the BLM protects and manages the Fort Ord National Monument on the Monterey Peninsula in California. A part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands, the former Fort Ord military base has been set aside for preservation, conservation and recreation for current and future generations to enjoy - and to remember the military tradition of this historic place. #BLMproud

From the BLM family to yours, Happy Memorial Day.

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Meet Our King Range Volunteer Wilderness Rangers

In 2014 the King Range National Conservation Area hosted two volunteer wilderness rangers, Chris and Bryce. These guys donated a combined 725 hours to public lands mainly within the King Range Wilderness.

Their service included trail maintenance, staffing our visitor center, conducting public contacts along the Lost Coast Trail, rehabbing campsites and removing lots of camper trash and marine debris from the King Range Wilderness. 

Many thanks for your great work!

-Justin Robbins

It’s #ThrowbackThursday and with everyone looking up at the sky this week, we thought we’d share this shot of a sunburst taken over the Tumco historic town site. The Rigg’s house is one of the few remaining structures of an early 19th century gold mining town. This ghost town is located in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains, just east of BLM’s Imperial Sand Dunes, California. http://ow.ly/vTr41

Photo: David Zielinski

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Beautiful sunrise photos from Fort Ord National Monument, a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.

This weekend, a portion of the Sea Otter Classic and expo will take place at Fort Ord National Monument, voted the best place to bike/mountain bike in Monterey County, 2014.  Come on out and Discover the Coast!

Photos taken by BLM Ranger Tammy Jakl yesterday morning.

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Enjoy your public lands, but know before you go.

In mid-June, the BLM Arcata Field Office and King Range National Conservation Area placed fire restrictions on all undeveloped BLM managed lands including the Lost Coast

Fire restrictions generally mean a prohibition on building, maintaining, and/or attending campfires outside of developed campgrounds and recreation areas. 

Planning on going somewhere? Check the local land management office to learn about possible fire restrictions. You can find information about current wildfires at: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/  Also check out: http://www.weather.gov/ to learn more about fire weather and red flag warnings. 

-Justin Robbins

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#WILDERNESS50 - #YOURWILDERNESS IS A VALUABLE REMINDER

Wilderness slows us down and stills us so that we hear and see more sharply the world firsthand. It  reminds us that we are not the center of world. Ecologist — Jim Weigand, Ecologist, California State Office

BLM California employees, local residents and visitors enjoy diverse and rugged wilderness areas managed by the BLM, like the Slinkard Wilderness Study Area, Mecca Hills Wilderness and the King Range Wilderness pictured here. Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

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