wilderness conservation

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Visiting the New Bears Ears National Monument

In an area as vast and diverse as the new Bears Ears National Monument in Southeastern Utah, it’s hard to know where to start in exploring. Here are some ideas for capturing a sampling of what the new National Monument offers.

On the Northern end, take state route 211 into spectacular Indian Creek Canyon. Stop at Newspaper Rock, a large and spectacular petroglyph panel with carvings dating back to 2,000 years. Further along, the canyon opens up into a wide valley rimmed by Navajo Sandstone. The iconic “Sixshooter” spires soon become visible. Look for rock climbers scaling the narrow cracks in the vertical Navajo Sandstone.

Further south, Take Highway 261 and 95 onto Cedar Mesa. The twin Bears Ears rise just north of the mesa. This is one of the most significant archaeological regions anywhere, with ancient pueblos tucked into endless canyons. Visiting many of the pueblos require planning ahead as they include hikes and some also require visitor permits. However, a view of the spectacular Butler Wash Ruin is a one hour round trip hike from a developed trailhead while the Mule Canyon Ruin is located along the highway.

Driving south along the rolling pinion uplands of Cedar Mesa does not prepare one for the descent of Highway 261 via the “Moki Dugway”. The route drops precipitously with views of Monument Valley in the distance. Similar landforms to Monument Valley’s famous formations are found along a 17 mile unpaved loop drive beginning at the base of the Dugway which traverses the Valley of the Gods.

A final stop along the southern border of the monument is also a must see. The viewpoint at Goosenecks State Park takes in a spectacular sequence of tight and colorful meanders of the San Jun River carved into the sandstone cliffs.

Many parts of the new national monument are remote and there are no services. Make sure to stock up with supplies in Monticello, Blanding or Bluff which all offer a full array of services as well as accommodations.

Happy Winter Solstice, 2016
Photo made while standing at the foot of Rainbow Mountain, Mount Wilson in the distance with the sun about to dip behind Oak Creek Canyon and in the foreground, glowing native plant Desert Needlegrass.


Rainbow Mountains, Sandstone Escarpment
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Spring Mountains Range, Las Vegas Nevada

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Happy anniversary to the Wilderness Act!  On September 3, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed this landmark conservation legislation. The BLM has stewardship responsibilities for 223 Wilderness Areas with over 8.7 million acres in 10 Western States. These areas are protected in their undeveloped state and offer outstanding recreation opportunities for visitors willing to experience nature on its own terms. BLM managed wilderness areas include vast southwestern deserts, red-rock canyons, rugged Pacific coastline and alpine peaks.

Wallace Stegner Quote

Something will have gone out of us as a
people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we
permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic
cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild
species…
-Wallace Stegner

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Ending the day with new photos of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and wilderness within the stunning desert landscape – by Bob Wick, BLM.  The grey limestone of the La Madre Peaks Wilderness contrasts beautifully with the red sandstone in Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, most often associated with the conservation area.  

About the area, Bob says: “Its amazing to be in a wilderness setting looking at the Las Vegas Strip just 10 miles away as the crow flies (see Las Vegas Night).”  

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
—  Conservationist John Muir (1898)
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We continue our weekend celebration of National Scenic and Historic Trails and National Wild and Scenic Rivers with fall foliage along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.  

The BLM manages a section of the Continental Divide Trail in Montana, with a majority located within the Centennial Mountains Wilderness Study Area.  A part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands, the Centennial Mountains WSA contains some of the most wild and biologically important lands in southwest Montana. Backcountry hiking, equestrian, hunting and fishing are popular along this segment of the trail. During the winter months, you can experience exceptional backcountry skiing opportunities and endless views.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

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Want solitude on your #mypublicandsroadtrip?

How about southeast Washington sand dunes, old growth juniper trees and a beautiful sunrise…or sunset!

Congress designated the Juniper Dunes Wilderness in 1984, and it now has a total of 6,869 acres. The wilderness preserves the northernmost growth of western juniper, some of which have been around for 150 years, along with windswept sand dunes measuring 130 feet in height and 1,000 feet in width.

Other than junipers, no trees grow in significant numbers here, but many bushes and flowers bloom wondrously come spring, although the mountains that separate western and eastern Washington generally wring the moisture from the air.

The landscape here takes quite a battering, in fact, with strong southwest winds to build the dunes, 7 to 8 inches of precipitation to moisten them, a foot or so of snow that drifts down in winter, and summer temperatures that occasionally rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Elevations range from 750 feet to 1,130 feet above sea level. Plenty of animals thrive despite the extremes: from mule deer, bobcats and coyotes to porcupines and kangaroo rats to beautiful hawks, owls, quail and pheasants.

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June #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover: Top 15 Places to Stargaze on the #mypubliclandsroadtrip in BLM California

1. Amargosa Wild and Scenic River
2. Cadiz Dunes Wilderness
3. California Coastal National Monument
4. Carrizo Plain National Monument
5. Fort Ord National Monument
6. Kingston Range Wilderness
7. Little Black Sands Beach in King Range National Conservation Area
8. Lost Coast Trail at King Range National Conservation Area
9. North Maricopa Wilderness
10. Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area
11. Piper Mountains Wilderness
12. Point Arena-Stornetta in California Coastal National Monument
13. San Gorgonio Wilderness
14. Slinkard Wilderness
15. Whipple Mountains Wilderness

Thanks for following the June #conservationlands15 features on My Public Lands Tumblr, and our takeover of americasgreatoutdoors Instagram account (https://instagram.com/usinterior/). Stay tuned all week as the #mypubliclandsroadtrip visits these top 15 California spots for stargazing and much more.  

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Enjoy Stunning Skies on #mypubliclandsroadtrip Recap in BLM Arizona!

The summer roadtrip stopped in BLM Arizona locations for unique history, science and recreation opportunities. This labor day weekend, enjoy the stunning skies above them all - from colorful sunrises and sunsets to starry skies.  

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM

Check out all BLM Arizona roadtrip photos on My Public Lands Flickr, and view the storymap roadtrip journal.

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The Hoodoo Mountains Wilderness Study Area - 80 miles east of Missoula, Montana - features dense forests of fir, lodgepole and pine with some open meadows and riparian areas that attract elk and moose. Its highest point Old Baldy Mountain reaches 7,511 feet. BLM manages much of the surrounding Garnet Range, including a second Wilderness Study Area (Wales Creek) and the popular Garnet Ghost Town. Perfect for the history buff and nature lover! #SeeBLM

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM.

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Happy Earth Day 2015 from the BLM!

Enjoy a snapshot of your amazing public lands - #noplacelikehome.

Whether you #hike #ride #climb #bike or #volunteer, share your own nature photos today with tag #NatureSelfie.

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Take a break from the winter cold at Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness in Arizona!

Aravaipa Canyon has a loyal and devoted fan base, drawing desert lovers year after year who come to explore and appreciate this oasis in the desert.  Forced to the surface as it squeezes through a tight canyon in the Galiuro Mountains, Aravaipa Creek’s flow supports a thriving riparian ecosystem complete with rare native fish, bighorn sheep, javelina, and colorful migratory birds. Visitation to the canyon is directed by a recreational permit system established to protect the canyon’s ecology.  Advanced planning pays off in an uncrowded canyon sprawled out under a canopy of sycamore you can have all to yourself!  

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM; Video by Jayson Barangan, BLM