Wilderness50

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Happy Wilderness Wednesday! On this day in history, President Bill Clinton signed the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993 in to law, adding the Powderhorn and Uncompahgre wilderness areas to the National Wilderness System.

Pictured here, the Uncompahgre Wilderness in Colorado - a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands - consists of gently rolling alpine tundra meadows, rugged, mountainous landscapes, and densely-forested canyons within the north-central San Juan Mountains. This wilderness boasts two “fourteeners” (on USFS-managed land) and more than 34 other peaks that tower over 13,000 feet in elevation. Visitors can explore over 100 miles of trails that provide excellent opportunities for various forms of recreation.

Several forks of the Cimarron River roar through the wilderness and numerous alpine lakes and streams that are scattered throughout. A few small lakes and many streams contain trout. From this wilderness are countless, breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains.

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist

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STEELHEAD FALLS WILDERNESS STUDY AREA

The long narrow canyon that surrounds the Deschutes River in the Steelhead Falls Wilderness Study Area area pulls visitors away from nearby human influences and places them in a spectacular steep-sloped channel of unique character. Noise from human infrastructure is masked by the roar of the river at the falls, and hikers become entranced by the colors of the stream-side vegetation and the textured reds and browns of the cliff walls.

The Steelhead Falls Wilderness Study Area is a 3,240-acre area along the west side of Crooked River Ranch. This segment of the Deschutes River is designated “scenic” under the Oregon Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Photos by Michael Campbell, 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

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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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Wishing all of you a wonderful #NPLD weekend from Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Mount Logan Wilderness Area

This 14,650-acre wilderness lies 45 miles south of Colorado City, Arizona, just north of the Grand Canyon in Mohave County.

Mount Logan is an area of interesting volcanic activity. It includes basalt ledges, cinder cones, ponderosa pine forests, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and a large, colorful, naturally eroded amphitheater known as Hells Hole. The area provides habitat for deer, turkey, and Kaibab squirrels.

Hiking, camping, scenic vistas, watching wildlife and hunting are some of the prime recreational opportunities found in this wilderness.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM
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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

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 Wilderness Wednesday from BLM Alaska’s Central Arctic Management Area! 

The Central Arctic Management Area - a BLM Wilderness Study Area - sits between NPRA and Gates of the Arctic National Park.  This little known 320,000 acre area is starkly beautiful and made up of rolling tundra and snow covered peaks. The photos include a a sow grizzly and cub in the tundra, which are said to be smaller than others in Alaska.

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

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#WILDERNESS50 - #YOURWILDERNESS is a hotspot for avian and mammalian diversity

Many of BLM’s resources and ecosystems are truly remarkable and offer enrichment to the National Wilderness Preservation System.  For example, the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness has produced a wealth of paleontological resources including the skull of the tyranasaurid dinosaur, also known as the Bisti Beast, that have given scientists insight into the evolution of these large predatory animals, and a duck-billed dinosaur in such a state of preservation that they were able to replicate it’s nasal chamber to reproduce dinosaur sounds.

In southwest New Mexico, the Gila Lower Box Wilderness Study Area is a hotspot for avian diversity with 265 bird species documented while Cowboy Springs WSA is home to over 60 species of mammals making it one of the most significant areas for mammalian diversity in the region. These are just a few examples of the wealth of public benefits BLM’s wilderness lands provide. These areas belong to you, the public, and I encourage everyone to get out and experience these special places. – Jesse Juen, BLM New Mexico State Director

BLM New Mexico employees, local residents and visitors enjoy diverse and rugged wilderness areas managed by the BLM, like the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, Gila Lower Box Wilderness Study Area and the Continental Divide WSA pictured here. Photos by Bob Wick and Mike Howard, BLM

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#WILDERNESS50 - #YOURWILDERNESS IS THE SOUL OF AMERICA

I look at wilderness as the soul of America. Our recent ancestors crossed it in covered wagons, handcarts, and by horseback; trying to get to a better place where money could be made and families raised. Most of our present wilderness lands, although phenomenally breathtaking, were too harsh, steep, and remote for taming by these settlers. As our population levels rapidly grow, our generation and those to come are so fortunate that the idea was advanced and embraced to set these special places aside for us to be reborn; to forever keep the soul and heart of America alive!

I don’t have to be in a wilderness to experience its gifts. Just knowing that it is there in perpetuity gives me inspiration to know we are doing the right thing. So lets ‘pay it forward’! May future generations say thank you and carry on the inspiration of wilderness! – Lauren Mermejo, Sage Grouse Project Coordinator, Nevada State Office 

BLM Nevada has stewardship for 45 wilderness areas covering over 2 million acres and another 2.5 million acres of wilderness study areas.

BLM Nevada employees, local residents and visitors enjoy diverse and rugged wilderness areas managed by the BLM, like the Wall Canyon Wilderness, Rainbow Mountain Wilderness and the High Rock Canyon Wilderness pictured here. Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

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Happy Wilderness Wednesday’s from the BLM-Montana/Dakotas!

Today we’re highlighting the Seven Blackfoot Wilderness Study Area (WSA) located in northern Garfield County, about 30 miles northwest of the small town of Jordan, Montana which also serves as the county seat and hub for surrounding ranches in this portion of Missouri River country.

Photo: Mark Jacobsen, Public Affairs Specialist for the Eastern Montana/Dakotas District 

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Gearing up to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act at the National Wilderness Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico! Today I had the unique opportunity to join a diverse group of wilderness advocates, stewards, educators, students and researchers on a hike into Ojito Wilderness north of town. 

Sponsored by the Great Old Broads for Wilderness and led by the BLM, our group hiked through a high desert landscape filled with incredible geological resources and features toward a hoodoo and low elevation ponderosa pine area. Filled with steep-sided mesas, remote box canyons, meandering arroyos, and austere badlands, the Ojito Wilderness offers solitude, tranquility, and escape from the congestion of the city.

Arriving at our destination, we all shared insights into our roles in managing and caring for wilderness and the importance of future collaboration and stewardship of such treasured landscapes.

The National Wilderness Conference kicks off today and is the first gathering of its kind in 25 years! I feel incredibly fortunate to be attending such an important gathering. Follow my experience on Twitter @BLMUtah or by using the #Wilderness50 hashtag.

-Chad Douglas, BLM Utah

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Celebrating 50 Years of Wilderness

If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it. – Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States

Photos by BLMer Bob Wick and thanks to Destinee Ditton, age 12, for sharing her BLM logo artwork with us!

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Take a few days for yourself in southern Utah!

A trip through Labyrinth Canyon on the lower Green River can be enjoyed almost any time of the year, except in winter when there may be ice on the river. Managed jointly by the BLM and State of Utah, it is an easy, flat-water stretch suitable for canoes, kayaks, and rafts of all types. The stretch offers calm water (no rapids) in beautiful wilderness canyons and is ideal for multi-day trips. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to explore the many sites along the way. Enjoy your public lands!

Photo by Chad Douglas, BLM 

Celebrating #wilderness50

“I moved to Kanab for the magnificent red-rock landscapes of Southern Utah. I will never tire of them and plan to stay here after I retire and explore for many years to come,” said Tom Christensen, BLM assistant field manager in Kanab, Utah.

“That our nation had the foresight to protect these special places and that BLM is the caretaker is both a duty and privilege that I take very seriously. Wilderness protection truly represents one of the best aspects of civilization and human spirit." 

Enjoy Fall Foliage in Bodie Wilderness Study Area

The Bodie Hills region totals 121,500 acres of BLM lands, adjacent to Forest Service and privately owned land. There are three BLM Wilderness Study Areas within the Bodie Hills:  Bodie, Bodie Mountain and Mt. Biedeman. 

From the pinyon pine and juniper rising out of rocky canyon walls, to the aspen and willow stands growing alongside streams, the Bodie WSA provides optimal habitat for many eastern Sierran fauna and willife. To the south, the Bodie WSA borders the Bodie State Historic Park, a preserve of the mining ghost town of Bodie.

Hike through the narrow canyons of Rough and Atastra Creeks, or hike up to the Dry Lakes plateau to gaze upon Beauty Peaks. Escape the crowds of ski resorts, and cross-country ski through the Bodie’s hilly terrain.  Other activities include: horseback riding, photography, camping, historical sightseeing, backpacking, geologic sightseeing, and more.

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM

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In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act this year, and in celebration of Great Outdoors Month in June, Bureau of Land Management Utah’s intrepid adventure crew will share their experience as they #DiscoverWilderness on a unique backpacking trip in southwestern Utah. Join in virtual exploration this week as young BLMers interview a broad range of user groups while hiking through some of the most pristine, undeveloped lands in our nation. 

Follow #DiscoverWildernesson social media this week, and Put the WILD back into your life!