Cow herding can be beneficial to the wildlife in parts of Africa. In areas where there is low quality grass, cows are able to graze down on it providing high quality grass for the other wildlife like the hartebeest and grant. Previous grazing also stimulates growth which is beneficial for elephants and waterbuck.

Cattle for Conservation? How cattle grazing affects the behavior of wild grazers on shared rangelands in East Africa- J Schieltz

Rapid Research #22

Photo by @amivitale. Yesterday was #WorldRangerDay and here is one of my heroes, Kamara, with two of the baby rhinos he looks after at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (@lewa_wildlife). Rangers like him literally put their lives on the line to protect and care for these animals every day. Thanks to their work and investment in the local communities, Lewa did not lose a single rhino to poaching in 2014. Ranger units like Lewa’s and the Northern Rangelands Trust (@nrt_kenya) have significantly improved the security of wildlife and people in the neighboring areas.

@natgeocreative @thephotosociety @nikonusa @natgeo #savetherhinos #lewawildlife #natureisspeaking #conservation #animals #nature #rhinos #kenya #magicalkenya #bestwildlife #nikonnofilter #nofilter #nikon #d4s #nikonambassador #photojournalism #onassignment #amivitale by natgeo


BLM New Mexico – with offices in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas – recently announced the winners of their annual employee photo contest. A few of our favorites are featured here; click photos for employee names and titles.

Visit the BLM New Mexico Flickr to view all contest winners.


Spring comes to the grassland! #weekendinspiration

The last frost is long gone and the cottonwoods have put on their best green, all of which signals a change in seasons on the high grasslands of southern Arizona.  At Las Cienegas National Conservation Area southeast of Tucson, the rush of life – from new pronghorn fawns and prairie dog pups to calves at the Empire Ranch – is reason to celebrate.

Pronghorn antelope are among North America’s fastest animals, but just minutes after birth even walking in a straight line looks like a challenge.  This year’s fawns will join a growing herd in the area that once dipped below 20, but now stands near 300 thanks to cooperative conservation work and improved habitat.

This is also ranching country. A drive of cows and calves through the sacaton grass and mesquite into the Empire Ranch headquarters corral calls to mind over 140 years of continuous tradition.

Smaller critters thrive amidst all the action.  The Black-tailed Prairie Dog – a skittish but curious mammal that builds elaborate tunnel networks - was extirpated from Arizona by 1960, but now at Las Cienegas several colonies welcome new pups to the mix each spring.

Summer is on the way, but for now some appreciation of spring is in order.

Post by Adam Milnor, BLM Arizona; new photos by Bob Wick, BLM


#TravelTuesday with Guest Photographer Bob Wick Continues with Day Trips Near the Vegas Strip.

About two hours from Las Vegas in a very remote, lightly populated area is the Basin and Range National Monument. It is truly an iconic American landscape. The vast, rugged landscape redefines one’s notions of distance and space and offers great landscape photography opportunities among its vast valleys surrounded by rugged mountains. The Monument preserves the legacies of 13,000 years of culture and the White River Narrows and Mount Irish Archaeological Districts, which include large concentrations of prehistoric rock art. During the late 19th century, Basque and other ranchers brought sheep and cattle into the valleys, and ranching remains an important part of the local culture to this day.  This is a very remote area with no visitor facilities and limited cell phone coverage, so come prepared.

Photo tip: Learn to use a digital editing program.  There are many on the market that will work perfectly well for most basic photo adjustments.  Great photographers like Ansel Adams spent much more time in the darkroom than they did in the field. Now we have the advantage of doing the same types of adjustments digitally. Adjusting contrast, light balance and other basic fine-tuning will make your images pop – the key is to be subtle and not overdo it.  I always shoot “RAW” images and do the all image adjustments myself. Most people who think adjustments are “cheating” don’t realize that if they don’t shoot RAW files, their camera is doing many adjustments automatically and they are giving up personal artistic control. 

Check out our @esri Nevada daytrips multimedia storymap for more stunning photos, videos, helpful links and maps of the area: mypubliclands.tumblr.com/traveltuesdaynevada.


Working Landscapes: Livestock Grazing on the Agua Fria National Monument

Livestock grazing played an important role in our history and how we settled the west.  The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 established the US Grazing Service and was passed as a means to provide regulation of grazing on public lands to improve rangeland conditions.  When the US Grazing Service and the General Land Office merged to become the BLM in 1946, livestock grazing continued as a valid, permitted land use; it continues as a legitimate land use today.


Happy Birthday, Oregon!

They say that “Virginia is for lovers.”  But it’s Oregon that was born 156 years ago today, on Valentine’s Day.  Maybe that’s why there are so many things to love about BLM-managed lands in Oregon, more than 15 million acres of forests, rangelands, beaches, mountains and more!


This week, the BLM’s My Public Lands Instagram reached 60,000 followers! We’re celebrating this milestone with #mypubliclandspicks. Check out our instagram all weekend to view favorite photos and places to visit, selected by employees.

Featured above:

  • Sunset over Burning Man 2014, Nevada, by Casey Bryant, BLM Vending Compliance Team
  • Browns Canyon National Monument, Colorado, by Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist
  • Middle Fork, Wyoming, by Charlotte Darling, BLM Wyoming Rangeland Management Specialist

The results are in!

BLM New Mexico recently announced the winners of its 7th annual employee photo contest. Today, we bring you a few of our favorites from the seven photo categories: landscape, wildlife - mammals, wildlife - non-mammals, plants, historical and cultural, work of the BLM, and recreation.

Congratulations to the winners!  CLICK HERE to view all employee photos.


A bloody combination of forces has led to a drastic decline in lion populations. As we move into the next 100 years, San Diego Zoo Global is working with organizations to protect keystone species and wildlife diversity. To be successful, strategies to save lions (and other wildlife) must respect and incorporate the needs of local people.  We’re proud to partner with Ewaso Lions and the Northern Rangelands Trust to fund their boots-on-the-ground efforts.

Details: http://bit.ly/SavingSimba

In A Universe Made of Blood and Love

It’s been too long since I have written and quite a lot has happened since then.

Today, a travel day with no show. 12 hours in the car from Dallas to Las Cruces.  While being confined in a car for so long was rather difficult physically, it was an incredible day.

For the bulk of the tour’s first two weeks we zigzagged across the South, a constant blur of fields and forests and rolling hills with our stops in cities in between. And then out into the flat and still green rangelands of central Texas.

Today brought real change - within two hours of passing Fort Worth we were in dry terrain dotted with oil derricks and karst hills rising up in the distance.  When we crossed into New Mexico the land was flat again and the earth turned from red to light sandy brown.  After a brief stop in Roswell we continued west and here the shifts in landscape were even more dramatic.  An hour after leaving town we were in deep valleys between wind-shorn round hills.  Then steeper mountains covered in evergreen forest.  And within an hour that forest disappeared and we were in desert again, but surrounded by even more mountainous terrain.  Then a wide valley of white sand dunes glowing in the sun - this beautiful expanse also a missile testing range for the Air Force - then back and over more mountains, and finally into Las Cruces, a blend of pueblo style homes and chain restaurants, sprawled across a valley surrounded by jagged pinnacles.  

Jeffrey stayed behind in Dallas and will rejoin the tour later on in Seattle.  Joseph joins us again in Los Angeles.  For the first time we will be performing the show without its creators.  Odder still, it is on this leg of the tour in which are travel through the lands most similar to Night Vale itself.  As we drove into Las Cruces and noted the radio and cell towers, an Arby’s sign poking up from the strip malls, the desert landscape in the background, the recent memory of Roswell’s alien themed tourist traps and conspiracist lures, the darkening sky. I wish they could experience it with us, but at the same time that landscape itself is a reassurance, a reminding presence of that world’s origins and the atmosphere we all work together to create.

Now an early night and with my roommate already asleep I have Swans’ Love of Life in my ears as I write this, and I find myself focusing not as much on the songs themselves, but more on the short interstitial bits, samples found or made by Jarboe (or so I read once), seeming to come from decades earlier, candid interviews or just friendly chatter, seemingly people talking about their personal and musical lives or figuring out a jam or lecturing the listener about the damaged state of their world and ours - who are they? I’ve never known, and while I’m sure I could dig up an answer somewhere I kind of prefer to not have that specific knowledge.  I prefer to keep the voices disembodied, detached, allowing me to imagine them coming from folk of Abilene or Snyder or Hondo or Alamogordo in decades past, then detach and take them with me again to be reimagined in the past of some other place.

We are now 16 shows in.  The last several shows have been a mix of experiences.  Nashville a sad night, the last performance of Aby and Dessa. Birmingham and Memphis the typical frustrations of trying to do Night Vale in venues more suited to rock bands. New Orleans a drinking show and a drinking crowd, good fun and the beginning of finding our feet again.  Houston’s preshow setup a drawn out ordeal of technical problems, a chaotically-run venue, a bizarre setting - but the show itself was strong. San Antonio and Dallas a return to form, in my opinion the strongest shows of the tour so far.

Midway through our meandering journey across the South we were joined by Mary and Will.  Pilgrims from another time, half awake already to the next world, living in constant wonder at the remaining present and the lingering shadows of the fading present’s exceptions and oddities.  Their music is melodic and raw psychedelic rock, in one sense an abrupt change from Dessa’s moody driving beats and intricate dark poetry, but there is commonality in the otherworldly moments they reach at the height of their performances.

But what does that mean, otherworldly?

It is not a formal musical or artistic term, it is not a genre or specific style, it cannot be quantified or measured.  To me, it is closer to being an emotion than anything else, but not one that most typically experience or talk about in every day life.

It is a moment that occurs in which the artist and their audience experiences a connection, not just with each other but with a world beyond.  A world separate from the practical world of soil and concrete and flesh and blood.  At its peaks, the feeling is consuming, that leads to a loss of the self.  And to those who focus on this feeling, to using it in works, a moment and feeling that can be stretched out in time, or even condensed and carried to another place.

Signifiers of other worlds are everywhere, particularly on this trip. The afterlives alternatively promised or threatened by the billboards of Christian zealots that dot the highways of the South, the cartoonish mocking at the idea of aliens covering every surface in Roswell, the world of Night Vale itself that we inhabit every night on stage, the fans who seem to inhabit that world to a far deeper degree.  

And there are of course other paths to that same raw material, in other contexts - meditation, ritual, zeal, substances, etc.

But for me personally, in between the practicalities of every day life, and doing my job and getting in between places and enjoying the company of friends and pleasures of food or drink - it is has been within the half hour every night when I stand on the side of the stage or at the back of the house, watching Dessa and Aby or Mary and Will, that I can find those moments to forget, briefly, my own existence or at least the self that I was occupying on a given day, to go Somewhere Else, to capture the momentum of that going and use it to drive my own ability to create and perform.  

A look across the Wood River Wetlands towards Pelican Butte from Our Newest My Public Lands Tumblr Blogger Alec Bryan

My dad used to take us to the desert when we were young. He showed us the remnants of the old store he worked his summers in, right outside of Goblin Valley…and told us about our grandpa and great grandpa working at Hidden Splendor. He told us that something about the desert gets in your blood, and it never goes away. He was right. Now, I live in Oregon, and there seems to be something about a forest that is akin to the desert. I have enjoyed all areas my work has taken me, and would like to share some of the cooler and lesser known places with the public. - Alec Bryan, Rangeland Management Specialist, BLM Oregon

In his first submission, Alec takes us to the Wood River Wetlands just north of Klamath Falls, Oregon. The area is a birder’s paradise - with a variety of raptors, thrushes, waterfowl and wonderful mountain views.  

Read more about Alec: http://mypubliclands.tumblr.com/ourbloggers/abryan.

Ranching, a Nature Lover’s Labor of Love

By Rachel T. Carnahan, BLM Arizona Public Affairs and Tumblr Blogger

Diamond Butte on the BLM Arizona Strip. Photo by Lorraine Christian, BLM Arizona Strip Field Manager

Driving east into the sun, I gaze south across the Arizona Strip. The sage-studded desert floor seems to stretch on forever.  

In my head, I rewrite the story of the modern day cowboy, of the rancher who scratches a living from this harsh country.  My stories draw from memories of classic westerns and an imagination fed by rugged Arizona landscapes.  Who is that modern day cowboy?  What drives the cowboy to work the land today?  

As I take the truck off highway, onto a wide dirt road, I come closer to the White Pockets Corral and possibly answers to my questions.

Quail Hill Draw, Arizona. Photo by Jon Jasper, BLM Arizona Strip Outdoor Recreation Planner

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