National Conservation Lands

Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona. Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management.

AMERICA’S PUBLIC LANDS

America’s newest collection of protected public lands and waterways stands alongside our national parks and wildlife refuges as guardians of America’s heritage and drivers of the nation’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy. Established in 2000, the National Conservation Lands protect 31 million acres of the most ecologically rich and culturally significant lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). They are found throughout the West, Alaska and even extend to the East Coast.

FREEDOM, DISCOVERY AND BEAUTY

The National Conservation Lands include National Monuments and National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Scenic and Historic Trails. These nationally significant lands embody freedom, discovery and unique outdoor experiences.

From rock climbing and hiking in Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument to trout fishing and whitewater rafting in Colorado’s Browns Canyon National Monument to camping and mountain biking in California’s King Range National Conservation Area, the recreational opportunities afforded by the National Conservation Lands are unsurpassed—and they support the tourism and recreation economies of many rural Western communities.

This collection of protected public lands also protects and preserves America’s sacred sites and cultural history. From ancient Puebloan cultures of 1,000 years ago to Spanish, Mexican, Native American and American settler histories from recent centuries, the National Conservation Lands represent a complete tour of the history of the American West. Our American military history is preserved as well, in places like California’s Fort Ord National Monument, and the World War II pilot training grounds in New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Bodie Hills Wilderness Study Area, California. Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management.

THREATS

The lands, rivers and trails within the National Conservation Lands have been designated for protection, but they are also incredibly vulnerable. They face abuse from reckless oil and gas drilling and irresponsible off-road vehicle use. They are subject to looting, vandalism and neglect from underfunding. Working together we can reduce these threats with on-the-ground work, partnerships and advocacy.

Threats to these lands also come from Congressional attacks on the Antiquities Act—a bedrock conservation law that has been used by 16 Presidents—8 from each party—to protect our nation’s heritage. Many of our national monuments and national parks would not exist today if they had not been protected under the Antiquities Act.

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Río Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico. Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management.