Taking its name from one of the longest living trees in the Arizona desert, the 129,000-acre Ironwood Forest National Monument is a true Sonoran Desert showcase. 🌵 Keeping company with the ironwood trees are mesquite, palo verde, creosote, and saguaro – blanketing the monument floor beneath rugged mountain ranges named Silver Bell, Waterman and Sawtooth. In between, desert valleys lay quietly to complete the setting. The national monument also contains habitat for the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl and desert bighorn sheep dwelling, which makes hiking, wildlife watching and photography favorite activities in this desert jewel. Photo by Bob Wick, @mypubliclands.


#TravelTuesday to the Rugged Indian Pass Wilderness in California.

The Indian Pass Wilderness is a distinctive part of the Chocolate Mountains, a range which extends from south central Riverside County to the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona.

Quartz peak is the highest point in the Wilderness capped at 2,200 feet. Jagged peaks and spires are sliced by mazes of twisting canyons which carry water from occasional desert cloudbursts into several tree-lined washes. One of these washes passes through the heart of the Wilderness area, giving rise to the region’s local name, “Julian Wash country.”

The area’s proximity to the Colorado River and the Arizona Desert contribute to the presence of wildlife species not commonly found in the California Desert. The Colorado River toad, Great Plains toad and tree lizard, while common in other states, are rarely seen in California. Burros and mule deer make their home over the entire area, and the rugged mountains provide ideal habitat for the desert bighorn sheep.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

Check out this bighorn sheep escalator! Once endangered and wary of human contact, the small number of desert bighorn sheep in Colorado National Monument are often hard to find, making this picture incredible and unique. Photo by Molly Murphy, National Park Service.


Happy #fathersday!  Thanks to the fathers, grandfathers, brothers and mentors for teaching us to #fish #boat #camp #ride #explore – and most of all, appreciate the great outdoors.

This #fathersday weekend, #mypubliclandsroadtrip enjoys the rugged beauty and solitude of the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness in Arizona, a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands. The wilderness includes the 11 mile long Aravaipa Canyon, surrounding tablelands and nine side canyons. Within the colorful 1,000 foot canyon walls, desert bighorn sheep and over 200 species of birds live among shady cottonwoods along the perennial waters of Aravaipa Creek.  A great roadtrip just two hours from Phoenix - explore #yourlands with dad!

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM.

Desert Bighorn Sheep. Not many in Zion, but we managed to see ten of them! Here’s one up on a hill, silhouetted against the evening sky. We were on our way to a good lookout for the sunset when we spotted a Bighorn on a small ledge on the side of the road. Went back to the spot and found not only one, but ten(!) Bighorn Sheep, a mix of ewes and lambs (maybe a male or two in there, too… hard to tell). I climbed up on a short ledge and took a ton of photos of them and this was the very last. A Bighorn had made its way to the top of the hill and we patiently waited for quite a while until it turned to give us this great profile. Metered for the sky and used a combo of small aperture / fast shutter speed to get the image. Processed the photo in black-and-white.

Welcome to the world, little girl! Two week-old desert bighorn sheep. As I was looking up the cliff today, she was running fast across the face of the cliff, and then up and down, bleating away. Bighorn lamb are climbing cliffs and running along tiny ledges a day after birth. I can’t watch them without incipient heart failure.

This is the time of year when federal agencies do their annual bighorn census. Helicopters were flying over the canyons between Joshua Tree National Park and Mt. San Gorgonio the last few days, doing their counts. February and March are lambing months (i.e., babies born).

Photo by rjzimmerman March 6, 2016.


The 27,660-acre Mount Nutt Wilderness is located in Mohave County, 15 miles west of Kingman, Arizona and 12 miles east of Bullhead City, Arizona.

This wilderness encompasses an eight-mile-long stretch of the central (and highest) portion of the Black Mountains. Nutt Mountain, at 5,216 feet, presides over a colorful and wild terrain. Along the main ridgeline, prominent mesas have been cut into a series of steep maze-like canyons. Outward from the main ridgeline, numerous huge volcanic plugs ring the entire Wilderness.

Scattered springs sustain small oases of large cottonwoods, willows, and oaks. Hiking, camping, hunting, photography, and rock scrambling opportunities are varied and challenging.

BLMer Justin Robbins said, “This maze of mesas, mountains, canyons and cliffs provides habitat for desert bighorn sheep and a wilderness sanctuary for people.”  

Photos by BLMer Justin Robbins


This #WomeninSTEM Wednesday, meet BLM-California Wildlife Biologist Joyce Schlachter.

How many years have you been with the BLM? 


What do you like best about your job?

There is always something new to learn and to get involved with because of BLM’s multiple-use mission and the vast amount of land we manage. I have been able to experience working with a variety of wildlife in many different habitat types.  I have worked in the forests of southwestern Oregon, the Redwoods, the Mojave Desert and southern California, which is considered to be a world biodiversity hotspot.  San Diego County where I am now stationed has more biodiversity than any other county in North America.  I have worked on demographic studies for the northern spotted owl, desert bighorn sheep, Townsend’s big-eared bat and the Mojave Desert tortoise.

What did you do to prepare yourself for your career with the BLM?

My love of nature and animals, domestic and wild, has been my saving grace. It was only natural that I would someday work with and for the environment and animals.  I wanted to be a Veterinarian when I was a little girl but, instead my first job was for a dentist and I spent the next 17 years being a Registered Dental Assistant.  I also assisted in veterinary dentistry and worked on gorillas, lions and dogs used in Disney motion pictures. During this time I decided I wanted to pursue a college degree and do more.  I then studied at Humbolt State University and earned my bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management. During my studies I participated in a career day and was chosen by BLM to be in the cooperative education program.

My advice to other women wanting to work in science and/or as a Wildlife Biologist:

I believe it is never too late to begin to pursue your interests.  I didn’t know what I would be doing with my degree and I didn’t know I’d be working for the BLM.  As trite as it may sound, it is important to follow your heart, be open to new adventures-say “Yes” and don’t give up!  I also feel it’s very important to volunteer your services in a field that you are passionate about. In my spare time, I volunteer for Project Wildlife, rehabilitating bats; an opportunity that is priceless.

Interview submitted by My Public Lands Tumblr blogger Michelle Puckett

Geoff Rowley 180 nose grinds a stones throw from Peninsular Desert Bighorn Sheep habitat. Also within earshot of Obama’s golf course of choice in La Quinta. Geoff explains, “I think he spends more time there than in office…I can’t tell you how many times we have been in the local mountains only to have cell phones scramble because he’s in town…pain in the butt!!” Photo originally ran as a cover for @theskateboardmag back in 2010.

Photo: @ryanallanphoto