The BLM’s conservation kingdom

  • BLM national monuments map

    Diane Sylvain

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, "Change comes slowly to Escalante country."

The National Landscape Conservation System is a blend of new and old. It includes not only the 15 monuments designated by President Bill Clinton, but also some 800 protected areas that the BLM has managed for as long as 30 years. The NLCS, created by the Bureau of Land Management administration during Clinton’s second term, is intended to give these lands some collective visibility — and a better shot at adequate funding from Congress. There might be a downside to that visibility, says a former agency staffer: “It just makes them easier to lop off.” Some of the crown jewels of the NLCS (acreage figures do not include non-federal inholdings):

1 — Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah 1,870,800 acres, designated September 1996
2 — Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona 71,100 acres, designated January 2000
3 — Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona 1,054,264 acres (managed jointly by the Park Service and the BLM), designated January 2000
4 — California Coastal National Monument, California 840 miles of coastline, designated January 2000
5 — Ironwood Forest National Monument, Arizona 129,022 acres, designated June 2000
6 — Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado 163,852 acres, designated June 2000
7 — Cascade-Siskyou National Monument, Oregon 52,947 acres, designated June 2000
8 — Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, California 272,000 acres (managed jointly by the Forest Service and the BLM), designated October 2000
9 — Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona 279,550 acres, designated November 2000
10 — Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho , 661,287 acres (managed jointly by the Park Service and the BLM), designated November 2000
11 — Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona 486,603 acres, designated January 2001
12 — Carrizo Plain National Monument, California 204,107 acres, designated January 2001
13 — Pompeys Pillar National Monument, Montana 51 acres, designated January 2001
14 — Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Montana 377,346 acres, designated January 2001
15 — Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico 4,114 acres, designated January 2001

More than 14 million acres of congressionally designated National Conservation Areas; seven were created during the Clinton administration. The largest NCA, the 10.6 million-acre California Desert Conservation Area, was established in 1976.

More than 6.2 million acres of wilderness areas and 17.1 million acres of wilderness study areas, in about 750 units scattered throughout 11 Western states and Alaska.

Two thousand miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, 3,600 miles of National Historic Trails, and the Continental Divide and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trails.

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