Drew McConville, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429-7441
David Slater, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429-8441
Washington, D.C. (June 2, 2005) – The National Landscape Conservation System, a diverse collection of Western conservation areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), was today named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Landscape Conservation System encompasses 26 million acres in 12 western states, including dozens of national monuments, conservation and wilderness areas, historic trails and wild and scenic rivers. It embraces an astonishing array of historic sites ranging from Native American pueblos to traces of frontier-era migration routes.
“The National Landscape Conservation System was created five years ago to protect some of America’s most extraordinary lands, rivers, and cultural sites,” said Bill Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society. “These places, like Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, provide some of the last opportunities to experience the historic landscape of the American West. Inclusion on the 11 Most Endangered list is a wake-up call. We need to act now to protect this vital piece of our American heritage.”
America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 170 threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures since 1988. Although a listing does not ensure the protection of a site or guarantee funding, the designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country. The list spotlights historic places across America that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or, as in the case of the National Landscape Conservation System, insensitive public policy.
“Conservation is supposed to be the priority for the places in the National Landscape Conservation System because these are places that deserve to be protected for future generations,” said Meadows. “But conservation clearly hasn’t been the BLM’s main concern over the past five years. For example, only a small percentage of these places have been inventoried to determine exactly what treasures they harbor. Meanwhile many of them are suffering on-the-ground threats from vandalism and uncontrolled off-road vehicle use.”
According to Meadows, the Bush Administration should take stronger action to defend the System and the riches it harbors. “The places in the National Landscape Conservation System are true national treasures, but they are not being adequately protected,” he said. “We need to make sure BLM gets the mandate and the resources to effectively protect these extraordinary places for our children and grandchildren.”
The System’s fifth anniversary gives particular relevance to the listing. “Right now, Americans who love open space, hiking, hunting, boating, exploring ancient archaeological sites, and our Western heritage are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the National Landscape Conservation,” said Meadows. “In every Western state, there are great local groups working to protect these places, and they need help. If people want to get involved, they should contact one of these groups, to help ensure that the National Landscape Conservation System is adequately protected.” For more information about the National Landscape Conservation System, visit http://www.discoverNLCS.org
The National Landscape Conservation System at a Glance
Many National Landscape Conservation System units were created to protect contiguous landscapes that preserve the ecological or cultural integrity of some of the West’s most precious lands. For example, Arizona’s Agua Fria National Monument contains hundreds of archaeological structures and sites that were interrelated in a large community. To truly understand these ancient communities in context and tell their story, it is essential to look at the entire system of archaeological sites. Another example is the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, a truly landscape-scale unit that encompasses large parts of the watershed of the Grand Canyon adjacent to the park.
Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Landscape Conservation System includes:
• 15 National Monuments;
• 14 National Conservation Areas;
• 36 Wild and Scenic Rivers;
• 175 Wilderness Areas;
• 4,264 miles of National and Scenic Trails;
• more than 600 Wilderness Study Areas.
Flagship places in the National Landscape Conservation System include:
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (Arizona) -- A remote area on the edge of one of the most awesome places on Earth, the Grand Canyon, this monument includes both stark desert and high plateaus and is home to a collage of species ranging from Mexican spotted owls to desert tortoises to mountain lions.
Carrizo Plains National Monument (California) -- Dramatically bisected by the San Andreas Fault zone, the Carrizo Plain is home to the largest concentration of endangered wildlife in all of California. Thirteen plant and animal species have been state or federally listed as endangered, including the California condor and the Joaquin kit fox.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (Colorado) -- This 164,000-acre national monument includes the densest concentration of Anasazi Indian sites in America—totaling more than 6,000 recorded sites so far.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Utah) -- In the heart of Utah’s Red Rock Country, this monument includes bold plateaus and multi-hued cliffs and slot canyons—a wonderland of recreational opportunities and one of the last places in America to experience true solitude.
Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (Montana) – Little has changed in this stretch of the Missouri River since Lewis and Clark traveled through the region more than 200 years ago. The monument includes some of the wildest country on the Great Plains. Its spectacular cliff and rugged coulees provide important habitat for elk, deer, antelope, and sage grouse.
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (Oregon) – In southwest Oregon, Cascade-Siskiyou is a 53,000-acre landscape of exceptional geologic complexity and a gateway to one of the great reservoirs of biodiversity in North America.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (Nevada) – Just 10 miles from the city of Las Vegas, the mountains rise to a great colorful escarpment, formed along a fault zone with peaks of more than 8,000 feet and huge cliffs and ravines banded with gray, white, and red rock.
For more information about our National Monuments and the National Landscape Conservation System, visit http://www.discoverNLCS.org