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Thanks to the many volunteers who spent time at National Public Lands Day events today, enjoying and improving the public lands we all love. And a special thanks to BLM staff, partners and volunteers who braved the weather for a successful NPLD condor release in Arizona.

We close the day with photos of White Pocket in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument by Bob Wick, where our condors fly tonight.

The towering escarpments of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and nearby wilderness areas provide ideal habitat for the condors. Here they can safely nest among the ledges and soar. –Mitch Owens BLM Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Outdoor Recreation Planner

Stay tuned next week for more photos and stories from our day of “CondorsOnTheRise”.

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

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Today we celebrate national “Take Your Pants for a Walk Day”  ……

Yes, really.  And it’s easy.  Just put on some pants and #getoutdoors - from #backyard2backcountry.  Here are a just a few of our favorite BLM-managed lands for walking, hiking, biking and more.

Check out last summer’s bucket list posts to learn more about these and other amazing BLM-managed lands: http://mypubliclands.tumblr.com/tagged/bucket%20list

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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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BLM Celebrates National Public Lands Day with Condor Release

Managing public lands for healthy ecosystems, including diverse plant communities and viable wildlife populations, is an important part of BLM’s work related to the Endangered Species Act. The California condor recovery program is an important part of BLM’s mission.  As a wildlife biologist, father and grandfather, I would like my children and grand children to always have this unique vulture species abundant and soaring in the skies over the Arizona Strip. -Tim Hughes, BLM Arizona State Office Threatened and Endangered Species Specialist

Tomorrow, Sept. 27, the BLM, The Peregrine Fund and partners will release three California condors in the BLM-managed Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. The condors were hatched and raised as part of The Peregrine Fund’s captive breeding program at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, and will be transported to Arizona for the release.

As of June 30, 2014, 72 of the world’s total 439 birds live in the wild throughout northern Arizona and southern Utah. Recovery efforts have successfully helped the species recover from the brink of extinction when numbers fell to just 22 condors worldwide in the 1980s.  Success is due to the efforts of contributing partners, including the BLM Arizona, The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Kaibab National Forest and Grand Canyon National Park.

The annual release coincides with National Public Lands Day and results in approximately 300 participants. Join the celebration on social media! You can follow the fun tomorrow using the hashtags #CondorsOnTheRise, #WelcomeCondors and #NPLD on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Flickr.

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Amboy Crater is an extinct cinder cone located just off of historic Route 66 – basically in the middle of nowhere (between Barstow and Needles) once the area was bypassed by Interstate 40 in the early 70s.  Before then, especially from the end of WWII through the 60s, it was a major attraction along this Main Street of America and many visitors would “get their kicks” by climbing Amboy Crater so they could brag about conquering a real volcano. 

After the climb, visitors would head to Roy’s Cafe in the nearby town of Amboy, just a few miles away, to have a cold drink or a meal.  Roys once employed 70 people and was a bustling stop for travelers.  Business dropped to almost nothing when I-40 opened and it fell into disrepair.  Luckily the current owner is interested in preserving this piece of Americana.  I snapped a picture of the restored diner (no food served, only sodas) when I stopped for gas.

-Bob Wick, BLM-California

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." 

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Monument Monday: 13th Anniversary of Pompeys Pillar National Monument

As the saying goes, “history is being made every day,” but how many of us have the forethought to document our adventures, dreams or innovations? Over a hundred years ago, Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition anticipated the significance of his journey to the Wild West and was diligent in documenting his travels in a journal.  Clark’s journal is a piece of history that links us with a different time, and the Bureau of Land Management is privileged to manage the only other physical evidence Clark left behind: his signature on a sandstone pillar in central Montana.  

Read more here: http://mypubliclands.tumblr.com/pompeyspillar

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On this day, in 2004 President George W. Bush signed the Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act into law. The Act added 14 BLM-managed wilderness areas to the National Wilderness System, including the Mount Irish Wilderness Area, featured above.

The Mount Irish range is also part of the Basin and Range National Monument, which was designated earlier this year.

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On this day in history, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act into law in 1958.  The act became effective on January 3, 1959.  As part of the Act, Alaska was granted more than 100 million acres of public land.

Featured here, the beautiful lands along the Dalton Highway in Alaska.

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

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Thanks to @cynrk for the note about Arizona’s birthday!

While younger than Oregon (statehood in 1912), equally amazing in very different ways.  Our post highlights some of the most interesting things about BLM Arizona public lands - petroglyphs, unique wildlife, cool cactus and other plants, out-of-this world geologic formations and so much more.  A lot to love about Arizona on Valentine’s Day.

Photos by BLMer Bob Wick

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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.

Colorful Sunset over Granite Mountain Wilderness in California

The 31,000 acre Granite Mountain Wilderness, a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands, is located in the eastern Sierra.  The area has a varied landscape of open alluvial basins, basaltic plateaus and granite ridges, and sagebrush steppe - with archaeological sites are scattered throughout.

About the image, BLMer Bob Wick shared: A sliver of the full moon makes a brief appearance in the after sunset glow before going back into the clouds. Granite Mountain is the higher peak in the foreground. The snowcapped White Mountains and Boundary Peak, the highest point in Nevada at 13,140 ft., are visible in the background.

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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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#Wilderness50 - #yourwilderness is a perfect backdrop for life

I feel so incredibly lucky to be an employee for the Bishop Field Office. Not only do we get to manage several beautiful and unique wilderness areas (and 14 wilderness study areas!), but we are part of a larger patchwork of wilderness that stretches from Death Valley to the top of the Sierra crest.  After work, I love being able to take my dog and head up to Long Lake in the John Muir Wilderness for a run. I can’t imagine a more perfect backdrop for life. –Becca Brooke, Supervisory Resource Management Specialist, Bishop, California Field Office

BLM California employees, local residents and visitors enjoy diverse and rugged wilderness areas managed by the BLM, like the Inyo Mountain Wilderness and Bodie Mountain pictured here. Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

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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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Celebrate National #TakeAHikeDay by Exploring Your Public Lands!

Visitors enjoy countless types of outdoor adventure – not just hiking – on the approximately 250 million acres of BLM-managed public lands in the United States.

In an increasingly urbanized West, these recreational opportunities in beautiful natural landscapes are vital to the quality of life enjoyed by residents of western states, as well as national and international visitors.

Photos by BLMer Bob Wick.