Desert-Bighorn-Sheep

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.

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The Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area in Colorado – a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands – is nestled within the Uncompahgre Plateau, where Cottonwood, Escalante, Big Dominguez and Little Dominguez Creeks tumble through red-rock sandstone canyons to empty into the Gunnison River. This area includes Dominguez Canyon Wilderness, where water running year-round through Little Dominguez Creek provides habitat for birds, mammals, lizards and other species. Desert bighorn sheep can also be spotted grazing beside cliffs.

In addition to the excellent rock climbing Dominguez-Escalante NCA has to offer, the rugged canyons and bluffs here hold geological and paleontological resources spanning 600 million years. Rock art on the canyon walls and archaeological sites on the mesas are evidence of thousands of years of Native American hunting and travel. And the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, a 19th century Mexican trade route, passes through this region.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

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.

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BLM Winter Bucket List #10: Ironwood Forest National Monument, Arizona, for Mild Temperatures and Winter Photography

Taking its name from one of the longest living trees in the Arizona desert, the Ironwood Forest National Monument protects 129,000 acres of spectacular Sonoran Desert mountains blanketed with saguaro cacti and ironwood trees. The winter light on the photogenic peaks - plus an average January high temperature of 65 degrees F - make the Ironwood an appealing wintertime public lands destination.

Ragged Top Mountain is the biological and geological crown jewel of the national monument. Several endangered and threatened species live here, including the Nichols turk’s head cactus and the lesser long-nosed bat. The national monument also contains habitat for the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl. The desert bighorn sheep dwelling in the region are the last viable population indigenous to the Tucson basin. The area holds abundant rock art sites and other archaeological objects of scientific interest.

Learn more about Ironwood Forest NM: http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/natmon/ironwood.html

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.

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The 19,410-acre Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is 120 miles southeast of Phoenix, Arizona in Graham and Pinal counties. The wilderness includes the 11-mile long Aravaipa Canyon, as well as, the surrounding tablelands and nine side canyons. Within the colorful 1,000-foot canyon walls, outstanding scenery, wildlife, and rich history are all protected. Seven species of native desert fish, desert bighorn sheep, and over 200 species of birds live among shady cottonwoods along the perennial waters of Aravaipa Creek. A permit is required to enter Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness. Use is limited to 50 people per day; this provides solitude for the visitor and reduces impacts to the environment.

Learn more: http://on.doi.gov/1esTgAt

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The 19,410-acre Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is 120 miles southeast of Phoenix, Arizona in Graham and Pinal counties. The wilderness includes the 11-mile long Aravaipa Canyon, as well as, the surrounding tablelands and nine side canyons. Within the colorful 1,000-foot canyon walls, outstanding scenery, wildlife, and rich history are all protected. Seven species of native desert fish, desert bighorn sheep, and over 200 species of birds live among shady cottonwoods along the perennial waters of Aravaipa Creek. A permit is required to enter Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness. Use is limited to 50 people per day; this provides solitude for the visitor and reduces impacts to the environment.

Learn more: http://on.doi.gov/1esTgAt

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM-California

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The 31,200- acre Hummingbird Springs Wilderness lies 55 miles west of Phoenix in western Maricopa County. The colorful escarpments of the 3,418-foot-high Sugarloaf Mountain rise steeply from the Tonopah Desert plains giving the wilderness exceptional scenic value, especially noticeable along Interstate Highway 10 south of the area. The Big Horn Mountains Wilderness lies to the southwest, separated only by a jeep trail.

Over eight miles of the eastern Big Horn Mountains cross this wilderness. The area is dominated by Sugarloaf Mountain, a landmark encircled by many lower peaks, hills, washes and bajadas. The complexity and diversity of landforms, desert vegetation and the natural beauty of this wilderness offer a wealth of recreation opportunities for visitors of all ages and abilities. Saguaro, chollas, ocotillos, paloverdes and mesquite abound. Most of the wilderness is habitat for desert bighorn sheep, mule deer and desert tortoise. Cooper’s hawks, prairie falcons, golden eagles, kit foxes and Gila monsters may also be encountered.

Learn more: http://on.doi.gov/19xD0k8

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM-California

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Taking its name from one of the longest living trees in the Arizona desert, the Ironwood Forest National Monument outside of Tucson protects 129,000 acres of spectacular Sonoran Desert mountains blanketed with saguaro cacti and ironwood trees. A part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands, the Ironwood Forest offers opportunities for solitude, nature watching and photography, and hiking or riding among saguaro giants.

Ragged Top Mountain shown here is the biological and geological crown jewel of the national monument. Several endangered and threatened species live here, including the lesser long-nosed bat and cactus ferruginous pygmy owl. The desert bighorn sheep dwelling in the region are the last viable population indigenous to the Tucson basin. And the area holds abundant rock art sites and other archaeological objects of scientific interest.  #mondaymotivation

New photos by Bob Wick, BLM

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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