The secretary's must-do list for Western lands

 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's Western road tour didn't finish at Steens Mountain; in fact, no one seems quite sure where it will end. In addition to the Arizona Strip and the Missouri River Breaks, several other Bureau of Land Management sites could gain greater protection before Babbitt leaves office. Here's a partial list.

McElmo Dome, Colorado

This 160,000-acre rock formation in the southwestern corner of the state is a treasure trove of Ancient Puebloan ruins and artifacts. Babbitt first visited there last May, when he set the local Resource Advisory Council to work on a proposal for a national conservation area. In an August report, the council described strong local opposition to the idea. Although Babbitt acknowledged these concerns in a Nov. 9 letter, he also said that unless there was "prompt legislative action" by Congress, he would ask President Clinton to establish a national monument.

Soda Mountain, Oregon

After Babbitt returned to Steens Mountain in late October, he made a side trip to the Soda Mountain area in southeastern Oregon. The Cascade, Klamath and Siskiyou mountains overlap in this region, and the 38,000 acres of federal lands there are considered a hotbed of geological and biological diversity. Despite rumors of a national monument or national biological area designation, Babbitt remained tight-lipped about his plans for the area.

Perry Mesa, Arizona

There are seven major prehistoric settlements and at least 450 archaeological sites on this mesa, just 40 miles from the outskirts of Phoenix. Babbitt is urging Congress to establish a 113,000-acre national conservation area there, and comments at recent public hearings have been generally supportive of increased protection for the mesa.

Carrizo Plain, California

The 200,000-acre Carrizo Plain Natural Area is one of the few remaining slices of the grassland habitat that once covered central California's San Joaquin Valley. A local congresswoman has long backed a proposal to establish a national conservation area on the plain, but her bill hasn't made much progress. Babbitt, who's hoping to jump-start the idea, visited the plain in late March and returned to the area in early November.

Santa Rosa Mountains, California

Babbitt visited these mountains south of Palm Springs in August and October. He's supporting a locally developed proposal for a 280,000-acre national monument made up of Forest Service, BLM, tribal and state lands. About 64,000 acres within the area are already protected as wilderness. Rep. Mary Bono, R, may sponsor a congressional bill to establish the monument.

Black Rock Desert, Nevada

This wide-open playa might be best known as the site of the annual no-holds-barred Burning Man festival (HCN, 5/11/98). Although Babbitt planned to visit last summer, he never made it. Nevada Democratic Sens. Harry Reid and Richard Bryan have since picked up the ball. They'd like to see more than 1 million acres of the northwestern Nevada desert designated a national conservation area.

High Country News Classifieds
  • SENIOR ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNER
    The City of Fort Collins is seeking a Senior Environmental Planner to lead the Nature in the City team. This interdisciplinary position is housed in...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) is seeking a dynamic community engagement assistant. The individual will work to identify and empower members, supporters, volunteers, and others...
  • VOICES OF WISDOM 2019 SOUTHWEST
    May 25 & 26 At the bank of the Colorado River, at Riverbend Park in Palisade, Colorado, the Sacred Fire Community in the Grand Valley...
  • PHILANTHROPY COORDINATOR
    Wyoming Wildlife Federation - collaborates with the Executive Director and staff to ensure the effective implementation of all philanthropic activities. https://wyomingwildlife.org/hiring-philanthropy-coordinator/.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    HawkWatch International is hiring an Executive Director to lead the organization. The next leader of this growing organization must have: 1. Enthusiasm for conservation, birds...
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Home Resource is a non-profit community sustainability center. We work with, in, and for the community to reduce waste and build a more vibrant and...
  • COUNTRY ESTATE NEAR KINGS CANYON AND SEQUOIA PARKS
    Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • BRN DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
    Borderlands Restoration Network 501c3 is hiring a full-time Development Director. Description and job details can be found at https://www.borderlandsrestoration.org/job-opportunities.html
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST NEW MEXICO
    Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921
  • WEB DESIGN AND CONTENT MANAGER
    We are seeking an experienced designer to be the team lead for web development and digital media. Part creator and part planner, this person should...
  • CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
    at RCAC. See the full description at https://bit.ly/2WJ3HvY Apply at [email protected]
  • GRASSROOTS ORGANIZER
    The Utah Rivers Council is looking for an energetic individual with strong communication and organizing skills. The Grassroots Organizer works to ensure our campaigns are...
  • JOHN DEERE SNOW BLOWER 24"
    Newly refurbished and tuned. Older model, great condition. Gasoline engine. Chains on tires. Heavy duty for mountain snow. Call cellphone and leave message or email.
  • STRAW BALE, ADOBE, TIMBER FRAME, HEALTHY HOME, NEAR LA VETA PASS, CO
    unique custom home in Sangre de Cristo Mountains of CO near La Veta Pass, 3 bed, 2 1/2 bath, private gated park, two hours from...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KANIKSU LAND TRUST
    Kaniksu Land Trust, a community-supported non-profit land trust serving north Idaho and northwest Montana, is in search of a new executive director. The ideal candidate...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Flathead Lakers are seeking a dynamic, self-motivated and proven leader to be our next Executive Director (ED).
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Blackfoot Challenge, a renowned collaborative conservation org in MT, seeks our next ED.
  • COPPER CANYON MEXICO CAMPING & BACKPACKING
    Camping, hiking, backpacking, R2R2R, Tarahumara Easter, Mushroom Festival, www.coppercanyontrails.org.
  • STAFF ATTORNEY, ALASKA
    Earthjustice is hiring for a Staff Attorney