#bornwild: BLM’s National Conservation Lands

Fifty years ago today, the Wilderness Act was signed, making the United States the first country in the world to define and designate wilderness areas through law. Today, the Bureau of Land Management manages wilderness as a part of its mission under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, through our National Conservation Lands.

In 1983, Congress designated the BLM’s first wilderness: the Bear Trap Canyon Wilderness unit of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness in Montana. Since then, Congress has designated 221 BLM Wilderness areas encompassing 8.7 million acres, including the 1994 passage of the California Desert Protection Act which created 69 wilderness areas in California. Another 528 WSAs remain, totaling 12.7 million acres. 

The BLM’s management of diverse wilderness includes offshore rocks, deserts, canyons and alpine tundra. And because the BLM manages the most public land of any Federal agency, wilderness designations can be massive. For example, the BLM’s largest wilderness is Nevada’s 315,000-acre Black Rock Desert Wilderness. Along the California coast, the King Range Wilderness has the longest coastal wilderness trail network in the country, more than 100 miles. These lands offer clean water; starry skies; pristine wildlife habitat; and open vistas that the public and BLM employees treasure.  

Follow along all month as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act!  And check out more beautiful wilderness photos in the #wilderness50 set on our My Public Lands Flickr: http://bit.ly/blmwilderness50

Happy 50th anniversary to the Wilderness Act! President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Wilderness Act and Land and Water Conservation Fund Act in 1964 is perhaps most important single event in American conservation history. Since its signing, Congress has designated more than 106 million acres of federal public lands as wilderness.

Last week we asked you to pick your favorite wilderness photo and here is the winner. This photo was taken from the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center within Yosemite National Park by Sean Goebel. 



“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

An Act to Establish a National Wilderness Preservation System, 09/03/1964

Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson fifty years ago, the Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System and protected an initial 9.1 million aces of Federal land.  It now protects over 100 million acres of wilderness in 44 states.  Read more at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

Be sure to follow our colleagues at mypubliclands as they celebrate #Wilderness50!  

Plus - share an image of your favorite wilderness area with the #Wilderness50 tag.  If it's from the National Archives, tag us ( todaysdocument) and we’ll try to reblog it!

Where is your favorite wilderness?

The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

Today in 1964, LBJ signed the Wilderness Act, protecting more than 9 million acres of land.

In his signing speech the President praised the bipartisan work in getting the bill passed: 

“I think it is significant that these steps have broad support not just from the Democratic Party, but the Republican Party, both parties in the Congress. For example, the wilderness bill has been before the Congress since 1957, but it passed this year 73 to 12 in the Senate, and 373 to 1 in the House. So it seems to me that this reflects a new and a strong national consensus to look ahead, and, more than that, to plan ahead; better still, to move ahead.”

Attendees at the ceremony included some of those Congressional leaders, and many leaders of nonprofit groups who had worked alongside them. LBJ signed the bill outdoors, in the Rose Garden–naturally!

-from the LBJ Library

#ActOnClimate because our kids and grandkids should be able to enjoy beautiful places like these.

The EPA today released a proposal that will set the first-ever national carbon pollution standards limits for America’s existing power plants. Find out how the rules will make our communities healthier, and learn more about the President’s plan to cut carbon pollution in America.

Today, post photos of your favorite places, of places where you and your family get outdoors, and tag with #ActOnClimate.  We’ll post our favorites here on My Public Lands Tumblr!

View more beautiful BLM-managed places on the BLM’s My Public Lands Flickr site; photos here by Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist.

It’s International Mountain Day, everyone!  Check out these beauties managed by BLM California.  CLICK HERE to find mountains and other locations in California to #GetOutside this weekend. #SeeBLM

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


In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, BLM-Idaho will highlight 50 adventures in the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness Areas throughout 2014. Each “Wilderness Wednesday” during this year of celebration, the public will find a new post on BLM Idaho’s Facebook page, suggesting a new idea for a wilderness adventure.  All activities will also be featured on the BLM-Idaho website. Each wilderness adventure will identify the wilderness area and include a photo, brief description, suggested experience level, location and approximate time to complete. Posts will begin on January 22. Members of the public are encouraged to share their photos and experiences in Idaho’s wilderness by using #IdahoWilderness50. We will share our favorites on our Facebook page throughout the year.

-Krista Berumen


Happy Birthday, New Mexico!

On this day in history, New Mexico became our 47th state. BLM employees in New Mexico care for 13.4 million acres of public lands plus 26 million acres of subsurface mineral estate.

New Mexico’s public lands offer breathtaking scenery, from rolling prairies and lush riparian areas to open woodlands and desert peaks – the iconic landscapes of the American West. CLICK HERE to plan a visit. 

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


Nine BLM Wilderness Areas Make Wilderness Society’s “15 of America’s Most Photogenic Wilderness Areas”

This year, the Bureau of Land Management and other land management agencies, non-government partners and the American public celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.  For this anniversary, the Wilderness Society has been featuring beautiful wilderness areas across the United States.  Their latest feature, “15 of America’s Most Photogenic Wilderness Areas,” include nine BLM-managed wilderness areas, all a part of the BLM’s beautiful National Conservation Lands


In a new photographic series exploring America’s natural beauty, weather.com is choosing and highlighting seven spectacular wonders from each state. The recent America the Beautiful: 7 Wonders of Arizona features the BLM-managed Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, with several beautiful photos taken by our own Bob Wick (pictured here)!

Located on the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona, Vermillion Cliffs includes the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. This remote and unspoiled, 280,000-acre Monument is a geologic treasure, containing a variety of diverse landscapes from the Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes, and Paria Canyon. 

Visitors enjoy scenic views of towering cliffs and deep canyons. Paria Canyon offers an outstanding three to five day wilderness backpacking experience. The colorful swirls of cross-bedded sandstone in Coyote Buttes are an international hiking destination. The BLM admits only 20 people a day to the monument’s best known attraction - the Wave - to preserve this unique formation.  

CLICK HERE to learn more about Vermillion Cliffs and the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.



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


We end this ‘Wilderness Wednesday’ with the solitude of the BLM-managed Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness in Utah.

The approximately 11,700 acre wilderness is a part of the newly-designated Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and shares a common boundary with the Cottonwood Forest Wilderness. Here, massive blocks of Jurassic-age Navajo Sandstone have been eroded by wind and water, leaving rounded domes and numerous small canyons. The resulting landscape is both austere and intimate. #Wilderness50

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM


Aravaipa Canyon is as close to the perfect hike as I have ever encountered.  It starts out at the trailhead as a scenic trek through  a riparian forest of cottonwoods and willows, then turns spectacular a short time later (understatement) as it enters a 1,000 ft. deep canyon in about a mile in.  While most canyons this dramatic require rope assisted descents or at least some rock scrambling, Aravaipa is… well pretty easy.  Hikers and backpackers must wear water shoes, as you’ll be crossing and wading through the clear stream constantly.  The water temperature was perfect for wading, at least this time of year… the rocks are not slippery, its flat, it just doesn’t get any better! The area would be quickly overwhelmed if the BLM had not instituted a permit system to limit use in the narrow fragile canyon.  The BLM Safford Office issues permits.  More from their website:

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.  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.  Additional information is available on the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Permits page. 

-Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist


Follow the #WILDERNESS50 Conference

On Sept. 3, 1964 President Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act, making the United States the first country in the world to define and designate wilderness areas through law. Today, the BLM manages 221 Wilderness areas, encompassing 8.7 million acres, through its National Conservation Lands. Another 528 WSAs remain, totaling 12.7 million acres. 

This week, wilderness partners, stewards, educators, students and researchers will gather in New Mexico for a National Wilderness Conference. The event will include more than 20 keynote speakers and panelists, 84 presenter sessions and a poster session exploring contemporary topics in wilderness stewardship - even free webinars for virtual participation.

Follow the conference events all week using #Wilderness50.  CLICK HERE to learn more.


Enjoying the beautiful Steens Mountain Wildernss Fall Foliage!

The United States Congress designated the Steens Mountain Wilderness in 2000 and it now has over 170,200 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Oregon and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Steens Mountain is located in Oregon’s high desert is one of the crown jewels of the state’s wildlands. It is some of the wildest and most remote land left in Oregon.

Opportunities for recreation on Steens Mountain are as plentiful as they are widespread. Popular activities include camping, picnicking, sightseeing, and exploring the open country on foot and horseback. Hiking is available in all areas and trailheads exist near Page Springs and South Steens Campgrounds, as well as Wildhorse Overlook and Pike Creek. Visitors photograph landscapes, wildlife and wildflowers, and catch redband trout in the Donner und Blitzen River. Others enjoy hunting for wild game and visiting special places, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.


BLM Winter Bucket List #14: Cache Creek Natural Area, California, for Eagle Hikes

On Saturdays in January through mid-February, you can join the BLM California and other outdoors enthusiasts for guided eagle hikes in the Cache Creek Natural Area.  Spend four or five hours hiking across the secluded, hilly expanse of oak woodlands and grasslands - a combination of over 70,000 acres of BLM managed lands and 4,700 acres of state and county lands. 

Eagles often soar over the Cache Creek or perch in streamside trees, and visitors often spot other wildlife, including tule elk, golden eagles, osprey, herons, red-tailed hawks and egrets.

The Cache Creek Natural Area is managed to improve habitat for wildlife and rare plants, to protect cultural resource values, and to offer primitive recreation opportunities, including wildlife viewing, river running, hiking, equestrian use and fishing. In 2006, approximately 27,245 acres within the Cache Creek Natural Area were designated as the Cache Creek Wilderness Area.

Learn more about the hikes: http://on.fb.me/1tMTsac

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


New Mexico provides a stunning backdrop from the National Wilderness Conference this week!  The BLM manages five Wilderness areas in New Mexico: Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, Cebolla Wilderness, Ojito Wilderness, Sabinoso Wilderness, and West Malpais Wilderness. 

The 41,170-acre Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a remote desolate area of steeply eroded badlands which offers some of the most unusual scenery found in the Four Corners region. 

BLM’s Cebolla Wilderness, located within the El Malpais National Conservation Area, includes 61,600 acres of sandstone mesas, canyons and grassy valleys characterize the area.

An hour northwest of Albuquerque is the Ojito Wilderness, a high desert landscape of wide open spaces and exceptional beauty. This area of steep-sided mesas, remote box canyons, meandering arroyos, and austere badlands offers solitude, tranquility, and escape from the congestion of the city.

The 16,030-acre Sabinoso Wilderness is a remote area in the northeastern portion of New Mexico. The Wilderness includes a series of high, narrow mesas surrounded by cliff-lined canyons.

BLM’s West Malpais Wilderness, located within the El Malpais National Conservation Area, includes 39,540 acres. It encompasses grassland, pinon-juniper woodland, ponderosa pine parkland, and basalt lava fields. 

Learn more about BLM New Mexico wilderness. And then check out the 57 Wilderness Study Areas managed by BLM New Mexico.


It seems appropriate on national plant a flower day to share Wilderness Wednesday photos of flowers blooming on one of the 221 Wilderness Areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The U.S. Congress designated the Table Rock Wilderness in 1984, and it now has a total of 5,781 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Oregon and is managed by the BLM.

A remnant of a lava flow that once covered this region along the western foothills of the Cascades, the “fortress” of Table Rock stands at 4,881 feet above the northeastern portion of this small Wilderness. On this steep and rugged terrain you’ll find a quiet forest of Douglas fir and western hemlock, with noble fir at higher elevations and crowds of rhododendron on many of the upper slopes, an island of old growth in an ocean of forest development. At least two endangered plants bloom here: Oregon sullivantia and Gorman’s aster. Deer and elk wander about in winter, and the northern spotted owl has been spotted among the old trees.

From four trailheads, about 17 miles of trails give access to the Wilderness. A relatively easy hike from Table Rock Road will take you up the Table Rock Trail to the sweeping vista from the summit of Table Rock, where the land falls suddenly away in basalt cliffs on the north face. From this high point, Mount Rainier looms far to the north, Bull of the Woods Wilderness beckons from the east, and the Willamette Valley spreads out to the south.

See more photos on the BLM Oregon Flickr Site: http://bit.ly/PtnIEf


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