February #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover: What is a National Monument?

The Antiquities Act of 1906 was signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt, for “… the protection of objects of historic and scientific interest” through the designation of national monuments by the President and Congress. National monuments are one of the types of specially-designated areas that make up the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.

Some of the earliest national monuments included Devils Tower, the Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. They were initially protected by the War Department, then later by the National Park Service.  More recently, the BLM and other Federal agencies have retained stewardship responsibilities for national monuments on public lands. In fact, the BLM manages more acres of national monuments in the continental U. S. than any other agency.  This includes the largest land-based national monument, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah featured here.

National monuments under the BLM’s stewardship have yielded numerous scientific discoveries, ranging from fossils of previously unknown dinosaurs to new theories about prehistoric cultures.  They provide places to view some of America’s darkest night skies, most unique wildlife, and treasured archaeological resources.   In total, twenty BLM-managed national monuments, covering over five million acres, are found throughout the western U. S. and offer endless opportunities for discovery.

Photos and description by Bob Wick, BLM

Note: The #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover is a 2015 monthly celebration of the 15th anniversary of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.


Thanks, Tumblrs, for following our #takeover of @USInterior’s Instagram Account Today!

Included here are today’s photos and a few other favorites posted by Interior over the last year.  Photos by Bob Wick, Wilderness Specialist for the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.

Kicking off the holiday weekend with a moonlight shot of the petroglyphs at Agua Fria National Monument near Phoenix, Arizona.

The Agua Fria National Monument contains one of the most significant systems of late prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. Managed by the BLM’s National Conservation Lands, the Monument includes approximately 71,000 acres and at least 450 prehistoric sites.   

Photo by Bob Wick, BLM


BLM’s National Conservation Lands: An Investment for Future Generations

The Bureau of Land Management’s National Conservation Lands contain some of the West’s most spectacular landscapes. They include 877 federally recognized areas and approximately 30 million acres of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Scenic and Historic Trails, and Conservation Lands of the California Desert.

The mission of the National Conservation Lands is to conserve, protect, and restore these nationally significant landscapes that are recognized for their outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values. These lands - like the Wilderness pictured here - are uniquely diverse. They encompass red-rock deserts and rugged ocean coastlines, deep river canyons and broad Alaskan tundra. Many areas are remote and wild but others are surprisingly accessible. The National Conservation Lands also reveal and protect our cultural legacy. They safeguard American Indian cliff dwellings and cultural sites, and preserve the remaining traces of our Nation’s historic trails and pathways.

The proposed BLM 2016 budget includes an increase in funding for conservation and recreation for National Conservation Lands, a legacy for future generations. #BLM2016Budget

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


In Case You Missed It: We Continued Our #conservationlands15 Celebration Last Weekend

Posts featured: the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, and a some quick facts about #nationalmonuments; the Grand-Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona, as a #BLMbucketlist for its dark sky designation; and, finally, the top 15 places on #nationalconservationlands for night sky viewing

CLICK HERE to read all #conservationlands15 posts. And visit our My Public Lands Flickr album to download night sky desktop wallpaper.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


#conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover, BLM Winter Bucket List #32 Recommendation: Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona for Its Dark Sky Park Status

The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is a vast remote landscape where the only nighttime light comes from the stars. The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) recognized the unspoiled quality of its pristine and breathtaking night skies with an official IDA designation as “Parashant International Night Sky Province,” joining an elite group of other international Night Sky Places around the globe.

Twenty-two organizations throughout the southwestern United States supported the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument’s nomination for IDA’s “Dark Sky Park” status, including the scientific community. Its pristine “Gold Tier” night sky view creates prime research and discovery opportunities.

The scenery continues to impress during the day at this rugged corner of northern Arizona, with views stretching from the lower portion of the Grand Canyon to the pine clad peaks of Mount Trumbull and Mount Logan Wilderness Areas. Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

Note: The #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover is a 2015 monthly celebration of the 15th anniversary of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands. 

Pony Express Trail in Wyoming by Bob Wick, BLM #mypubliclands Instagram Guest Photo Editor

About the photograph: In this image of the Pony Express Trail, I was trying to capture the hardships endured by the legendary riders. The brewing storm helped set the stage, but I also decided to use back lighting from the setting sun to reduce the detail of the rider to a silhouette.  This brings a mood and mystery to a photo that intrigues viewers much more than if they could see the rider in more detail. I ensured that my camera’s light meter properly exposed for the brighter background resulting in an underexposed rider.  The back lighting around sunrise and sunset is best for sihlouettes.  Make sure to keep your subject simple & correctly located to be backed by the sky/bright area. Silhouettes are also a good way to turn a difficult backlighting situation into a magical photo.

About the area: Wyoming is a great place to learn about westward emigration and the expansion of the U. S. In many areas, the vast landscapes look much like they did in the 1800s, and traces of wagon ruts are still visible. A great place to start your visit and learn about field locations is at the National Trails Visitor Center in Casper. Here, the story of the Mormon Pioneer, Oregon, California, and Pony Express National Historic Trails is told. All four of these routes passed through here on their way to the Continental Divide crossing at South Pass.

Camera settings: lens focal length: 23 mm , shutter speed: 1/125 second, aperture  f 8 ISO 320

Learn more about the Pony Express Trail, a part of BLM’s National Conservation Lands:


BLM Winter Bucket List #21: Visit King Range National Conservation Area, California, for Solitude in “A World Apart”

No #nationalconservation15 social media day would be complete without a National Conservation Lands location for your bucket list.  We recommend the BLM’s first National Conservation Area - King Range.

Perched along California’s far northern coast is an area of Douglas-fir clad peaks and rushing streams bypassed by civilization. The focal point of this “Lost Coast” is the 68,000-acre BLM managed King Range National Conservation Area.  Visitors must keep their schedules flexible in the winter - the weather can range from sunny 60-degree days to heavy rains and pounding surf.  Those who come prepared for the weather can enjoy solitude in a spectacular setting of 4,000 foot peaks jutting straight from the sea. 

The rocky coast in the small community of Shelter Cove offers great spots to view storm waves (keep back a safe distance from the ocean). More than 100 miles of trails offer many options for day hiking opportunities. Backpacking, a very popular pastime here the rest of the year, is also possible in winter, but storms can make trails impassible from high water crossings, so pay attention to the weather.  Expert surfers strap boards to their packs and hike miles into the coastal wilderness to access one of the best point breaks on the west coast. The King Range is five hours north of San Francisco and a world apart.  

CLICK HERE to learn more about the area and plan your visit.

Photos and description by Bob Wick, BLM



News and Events

On Feb. 19, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined members of Congress, local elected officials, and community members from the Upper Arkansas River Valley in applauding the President’s designation of Browns Canyon National Monument. The monument protects one of the nation’s mostpopular destinations for whitewater rafting, with the Arkansas River andadjacent uplands supporting world-class recreation opportunities and a strong outdooreconomy. Read the press release.

The BLM issued a Record of Decision for the proposed Greater Mooses Tooth Unit project, opening the way for the first production of oil and gas from federal lands in the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). Read the five things youshould know about oil and gas production in Alaska.

Social Media Highlights

The DOI last week handed over the keys to its popular @USInteriorInstagram account to the BLM. During the one-day Instagram takeover, the BLM showcased some of the iconic public lands it manages in the Southwest. The BLM cares for approximately 250 million acres of land that are open to the public for outdoor activities. The Instagram takeover drew several thousand new followers to the BLM’s @mypubliclands Instagram account. Read the full story on DOI’s website.

On Feb. 15, the BLM continued its celebration of the 15th anniversary of its National Conservation Lands with a #conservationlands15 monthly takeover over of BLM’s national social media accounts. February posts featured: the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, and a some quick facts about national monuments;the Grand-Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona, as a BLM bucket list location for its dark sky designation; and, finally, the top 15 places on National Conservation Lands for night sky viewing.   View all #conservationlands15 posts.

Last week, leading up to the 2015 Academy Awards, the BLM featured public lands that have doubled as unique film locations - for classic westerns, science fiction, and more. Check out the photos on the BLM’s mypubliclands Instagram account.



BLM Winter Bucket List #31: National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, Wyoming, for A Step Back in Time

The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center -  a cooperative partnership between BLM, the National Historic Trails Center Foundation, and the City of Casper - makes our bucket list in the winter and every other time of year. 

Through interactive exhibits, period costumes, and outdoor activities, the Trails Center commemorates the Oregon, Mormon, California, and Pony Express Historic Trials.  All of these are now a part of the National Trail System and are National Historic Trails. 

The Trails Center interprets the significant role of the area’s historic trails in the history of the United States, and seeks to promote public understanding of both America’s western Native cultures and historic westward expansion while highlighting BLM’s role as active stewards of public lands.

Waves explode onto offshore rocks, spraying whitewater into the air. Sea lions bark as they “haul out” of the surf onto the rocks, and a whirlwind of birds fly above. These amazing rocks and small islands are part of the California Coastal National Monument, a spectacular interplay of land and sea. Located off the 1,100 miles of California coastline, the California Coastal National Monument comprises more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles between Mexico and Oregon. Photo by Bob Wick

The Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation area in SW Utah within an ecological transition zone between the Mojave Desert and the Great Basin. Creosote bush, white bursage, and other desert shrubs grow at lower elevations and provide habitat for desert bighorn sheep and the Mojave Desert tortoise, a threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Joshua trees and dense stands of blackbrush cover the slopes of the Beaver Dam Mountains, which rise along the eastern boundary of the NCA.  Photo by Bob Wick

"The truck pitched and yawed as we snaked our way across Arizona’s Paria Plateau and slogged through the deep channels of sandy roads that traverse the desert terrain. Our route this trip lead north across the plateau to a destination known among backcountry travelers as simply, ‘White Pockets’; one of the few remote locations within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument that to me, still feels largely like an adventure and expedition." — Photographer Rachel Tueller 

Check back next week, when we’ll post the full story and more photos from Rachel’s trip

The Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona contains more than 487,000 acres of Sonoran Desert landscape. The Sonoran Desert is the most biologically diverse of the North American deserts, and the monument exemplifies this desert setting. The most striking aspect of the plant community within the monument is the extensive saguaro cactus forest. Learn more at