#WILDERNESS50 - #YOURWILDERNESS IS A NEED

With the day to day stresses in life, for me, Wilderness is a need.  I need the sense of refreshment and re-centering that comes from getting lost, if only briefly, in the Wilderness on a near weekly basis.  Memories from my last excursion and the excitement of my next adventure provide the daily escape I need to offset the hustle and bustle of today’s lifestyle. — Jim Beaupre,Outdoor Recreation Planner, Prineville District, BLM Oregon

BLM Oregon employees, local residents and visitors enjoy diverse and rugged wilderness areas managed by the BLM, like the Oregon Badlands Wilderness pictured here. 

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Located on the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona, the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona includes the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. This remote and unspoiled, 280,000-acre Monument - a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands - is a geologic treasure, containing a variety of diverse landscapes from the Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes, and Paria Canyon. 

Visitors enjoy scenic views of towering cliffs and deep canyons. Paria Canyon offers an outstanding three to five day wilderness backpacking experience. The colorful swirls of cross-bedded sandstone in Coyote Buttes are an international hiking destination.

A permit is required for hiking in Coyote Buttes North (the Wave), Coyote Buttes South, and for overnight trips within Paria Canyon. Visit the BLM Arizona’s website to learn more about this beautiful area and plan your visit.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist

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BLM Colorado Uses “Critter Cams” for Wildlife Monitoring

Biologists at the Royal Gorge Field Office in Colorado utilize guzzlers and other water collection systems to manage grazing and increase water access to wildlife. Still cameras have been placed at guzzlers along the front range of the Rocky Mountains to monitor use and activity. 

Cameras provide a dimension of monitoring that give biologists an invaluable amount of information as to the frequency of use and by what species. Beyond the scientific data collected by the critter cameras, magnificent, candid photographs of coyotes, bobcats and other creatures are captured. 

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Just 12 miles west of Las Vegas, the colorful, bare sandstone of the aptly named Rainbow Mountain Wilderness emerges from the valley floor, standing guard over the surrounding pinyon-juniper forest and Mojave Desert scrub below. Its sheer, towering red and white cliffs are cut by rugged, narrow, twisting canyons lined with willow, ash, and hackberry trees. 

Encompassing 24,997 acres, this desert wonderland dominates the western view of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and is managed jointly by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. 

With springs, sandstone ‘pothole’ water tanks, and an elevation range of 3,000 feet, topping out at the 7,070-foot summit of Mount Wilson, the wilderness supports a wide variety of wildlife and unique plant communities. Deep, cool canyons host chain ferns as much as six feet tall and ponderosa pines, which usually thrive at higher elevations like the rocky outcrops further up the mountainsides. 

Desert bighorn sheep, mountain lion, bobcats, mule deer, coyote, foxes, bats, squirrels, and numerous bird species also make their home in the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

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At 85,710 acres in size, Adobe Town Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is the largest in Wyoming. Within the WSA, you’ll find Skull Creek Rim and Monument Valley - names that conjure up images of colorful badlands, buttes and spires created by thousands of years of erosion. Located 80 miles southwest of Rawlins, outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive and unconfined recreation exist in the WSA. 

This WSA’s rugged badland rims and numerous canyons provide ample opportunities to avoid the sights and sounds of other visitors. The open desert plain, with its expanses of sagebrush and open scenic vistas, projects a feeling of vastness and solitude. 

The WSA is nationally known for the educational and scientific study of paleontological resources. Fossil remains of mammals are numerous and widely distributed throughout the area. Two notable mammalian fossils found in the area are the Uintathere and the Titanothere. The Uintathere was a large mammal about the size and configuration of an African rhinoceros. The species of Titanothere found in the WSA was a tapir-like mammal, about 40 inches in height. This area has been identified as one of the premier sites in North America for paleontological resources.

Significant archaeological resources are found throughout the WSA, representing 12,000 years of continuous occupation by man from Paleo Indian through late Prehistoric periods. The cultural site density of the WSA is estimated to be 30 surface sites per square mile, which is unusually high.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

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BLM Colorado’s Red Cloud Peak Wilderness Study Area (WSA) contains 30 mountain peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation and two peaks over 14,000 feet: Red Cloud Peak (14,034 feet) and Sunshine Peak (14,001 feet). In the upper portion of the drainages, the mountainous terrain, with its expanses of alpine tundra and open scenic vistas, projects feelings of vastness and solitude.

Lower elevations are often heavily forested and create a feeling of total seclusion. Volcanic and Precambrian rock types are intermingled and glacial geomorphology is highly evident. There are also several rock glacier formations, alpine lakes, and streams in this WSA. 

This WSA is home to many wildlife species, including Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks, prairie falcons, doves, quail, songbirds, mule deer, gray and kit fox, rock squirrels, jackrabbits, and several reptilian species. Activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain climbing, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, and photography.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

 

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On This Day in History - The BLM Was Established

On July 16, 1946, the General Land Office and the Grazing Service merged and became the Bureau of Land Management within the Department of Interior.  With historical roots spanning 200+ years, the BLM now manages many places — like ghost towns, mining camps, and homesteads — that give visitors a glimpse into what life may have been like for early settlers and pioneers.

Pictured here is the BLM-managed Garnet Ghost town in Montana. A young nation expanded into the Montana territory in the mid-1860s. Many scoured the mountains for gold and other precious metals. Settlements grew overnight around mining claims.  The town of Garnet was born in 1895, and within several years, hundreds of people called it home.  The blasts of dynamite and the shouts of miners echoed through the gulches.

But Garnet was not destined to last.  Today, most of the town is publicly owned, and managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM stabilizes and preserves the remaining two dozen buildings and provides visitors a glimpse into this fascinating part of our past.

CLICK HERE to learn about more ghost towns and historic places available to the public as a living history.  

Photos: Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist

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Exploring the Gulkana Wild and Scenic River

The Gulkana is one of the most popular sportfishing rivers in Alaska, providing rich habitat for rainbow trout, arctic grayling, king salmon, red salmon, whitefish, longnose suckers, and lamprey.  A poplular river for fisherman and boaters in the summer, this river has also played an important role in the lives of the Ahtna, providing access to subsistence resoucres throughout history and pre-history.  During winter months the frozen Gulkana River was historically used as an important travel route from the Copper River to the Tangle Lakes and what is now known as the Denali Highway area. 

The Gulkana River Watershed drains approximately 2,140 square miles of Southcentral Alaska.  The river begins in the Alaska Range near Summit Lake and flows south into the Copper River, eventually draining into Prince William Sound.  Several hundred lakes and ponds are scattered throughout the spruce-dominated forest of the Gulkana River Watershed, providing abundant nesting areas for trumpeter swans and waterfowl.

Photos by Jeremy Matlock, BLM

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My Public Lands turns two years old this weekend!  

Thanks to our followers who have shared the stories, photos and videos, gifs and more submitted primarily by our employees who support the BLM’s mission every day.  

In celebration, we’ll be reposting your favorites all weekend!

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Seal pup at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area 

A very young seal pup was spotted near the tide pools at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, surprising BLM staffers who are more accustomed to seeing baby seals in May or early June.

Meredith Matherly, the BLM education staffer at Yaquina who captured the photographs of the male pup, said the sighting on Cobble Beach was “extremely late in the season” but that there were no visible health issues.

“This one seemed healthy and happy, though,” said Matherly, adding that soon after the sighting the pup scooted into the water to meet mom and “ride on her back as he gets used to this big wide world!”

For more information on Yaquina Head, visit http://on.doi.gov/1lZfhcC

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#WILDERNESS50 - #YOURWILDERNESS IS A MONUMENTAL BLESSING

For me, wilderness is a tonic, a retreat from the frenzy of modern life, a refuge to recharge and reconnect. As we celebrate the Wilderness Act’s 50th anniversary, we pause to look back and thank the wilderness champions who came before us. We’ve inherited a monumental blessing. And we’re grateful to all those individuals, organizations, and agencies who continue the important work of strengthening this wilderness legacy and ensuring that these beloved areas are protected and preserved for future generations. — Jerry Perez, BLM Oregon/Washington State Director

BLM Oregon employees, local residents and visitors enjoy diverse and rugged wilderness areas managed by the BLM, like the Steens Mountain Wilderness pictured here. Photos by Tom Wilcox and Bob Wick, BLM

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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

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Happy Birthday, Yaquina Head!

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area extends out from the Oregon coast, one mile into the Pacific Ocean. Standing 93 feet tall at the westernmost point of the basalt headland, the lighthouse has been a bright beacon of the night, guiding ships and their supplies along the west coast since the light was first lit on August 20, 1873.

The offshore islands are a year-round refuge for harbor seals and a spring-summer home for thousands of nesting seabirds. Gray whales can be spotted during their annual migrations to Mexico (late fall-early winter) and Alaska (late winter-early spring). During the summer months some gray whales take the opportunity to feed in the shallow waters around the headland.

Cobble Beach is compiled of millions of round basalt rocks that produce an applause-like sound as the waves roll in. When the tide is low a vibrant ocean floor is revealed—pools of colorful animals including orange sea stars, purple sea urchins, and giant green anemones.

Photo by Jeff Clark, BLM

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Known for its big trees, Oregon boasts one giant that stands high above the others: the Doerner Fir. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon’s Coast Range, the mighty Doerner Fir is the world’s tallest Douglas fir – a towering 327 feet tall, 11.5 feet in diameter, and over 450 years old. 

Winding roads take travelers through some of the most valuable forests in the nation to the Doerner Fir Trail, 50 miles from Coos Bay in Oregon’s Coast Range mountains. Check out a short film about the Doerner Fir on BLM Oregon/Washington’s YouTube channel

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On this day in 1993, Congress established the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area - to protect a unique environment that supports one of the world’s most dense concentrations of nesting birds of prey.   The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 officially added the name of conservationist Morley Nelson to the NCA, in honor of Nelson’s work on behalf of birds of prey and their habitats.

The BLM manages the area, a part of the National Conservation Lands, to preserve its remarkable wildlife habitat while providing for other compatible uses of the land. The area’s 485,000 acres host some 800 pairs of hawks, owls, eagles and falcons that come each spring to mate and raise young.  

As a complete, stable ecosystem where predators and prey occur in extraordinary numbers, the NCA is a valuable place for research and education. The youth pictured here - Idaho 3rd through 8th grade students - recently participated in a day camp where they learned about raptor characteristics and became raptors for a day. The kids also visited the World Center for Birds of Prey and Dedication Point. 

Learn more about the Morley Nelson NCA: on.doi.gov/1zNqQgP and Dedication Point: on.doi.gov/1zNqUgh

-Krista Berumen

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: on.doi.gov/1gMNVYh

Photo by Bob Wick, BLM 

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In the remote high deserts of New Mexico, modern-day archaeologists and adventurers are building a bridge to our past.

Between A.D. 700 and 1150, the Chacoan people built the Great Houses. Thanks to their advanced architecture and masonry techniques, some of these elaborate buildings - which they mysteriously left behind - are now known to have been several stories high with hundreds of rooms.  See the cover photo by Lorran Meares.

Read more in Welcome to the Big House - a feature article by Donna Hummel in the BLM’s My Public Lands Magazine, Summer 2014

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