Expanding The National Conservation Lands

The National Conservation Lands make up only ten percent of all lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and are far from realizing their conservation potential.

There are many amazing places that deserve the recognition and protection that comes with being part of the National Conservation Lands. From the California desert’s critical wildlife habitat, Native American, pioneer and homesteading history and recreation that drives regional economies, to Utah’s Cedar Mesa and the proposed Bears Ears protected region–the most significant concentration of unprotected archeological and sacred sites in the nation, to Nevada’s Gold Butte region with its cultural resources and stunning geology, the Conservation Lands Foundation is working with local communities, tribes and other partners to safeguard our country’s most treasured traditions and ensure that future generations can benefit from them as we do.

In addition to protecting important wildlife habitat and cultural resources, protected public lands are an economic driver for local businesses and surrounding communities, as well as for our country’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy. Protected public lands ensure these non-renewable resources that attract visitors from around the world will be around for future generations. We are working with local communities and other stakeholders to have these areas protected either by Congress or by the President using his authority under the Antiquities Act.

Here are some of the areas and organizations we’re working with to protect the best remaining places managed by the BLM. Many other great campaigns are happening across western communities to protect important areas, where local people are making their voices heard and working to protect our national heritage.

Bears Ears Proposal, Utah

Cedar Mesa - Mark Meloy

In southeastern Utah’s San Juan County, the Cedar Mesa / Bears Ears region is anchored by Grand Gulch and the serpentine canyons of Fish and Owl Creeks. The most valuable cultural and archeological sites left on BLM-managed land without full protection, the region is the Navajo homeland, ancestral home of Puebloan tribes, and is laced with ancient and Mormon pioneer history. To find out more about the region and efforts to protect it, go to Protect Bears Ears.

 Bodie Hills, California

Bodie Hills CA - Bob Wick

Two and a half hours south of Reno on California’s East Side of the Sierra, the roughly 200,000 acres managed by the BLM in the Bodie Hills represent a major conservation opportunity. In recent years, the threat of a new open pit gold mine in the heart of the Bodie Hills has galvanized local support and interest in a campaign for permanent protection. With the Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership (BCHP—The Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited, and Friends of the Inyo and CLF), we’re working towards a legislated national monument that will protect this critical habitat linkage between the Sierra Nevada Range and the Great Basin. Opportunities for heritage tourism to benefit the region are significant, with the centerpiece the heavily-visited Bodie State Historic Park.

California Desert, California

Sunrise over Iron Mountain

Mandated by the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009 and in sync with California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and renewable energy mitigation needs, the BLM is spearheading a multi-agency, science-based effort to identify additions to the National Conservation Lands. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is a visionary effort involving dozens of stakeholders that holds the promise of adding millions of acres of important habitat to the National Conservation Lands.

Learn more about how you can get involved.

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, California/Oregon

Cascade-Siskiyou - Bob Wick

Soda Mountain Wilderness Council is leading an effort to designate additional lands in California to Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The most ecologically significant portion of the region was left undesignated in the 2000 proclamation by then-President Bill Clinton, and advocates say now is the time to protect the whole ecosystem.

Basin and Range Proposal, Nevada


The Garden and Coal Valleys of Nevada are distinguished by their remoteness and pristine condition. As part of America’s “Great Basin,” these valleys are some of the region’s best examples of basins framed by mountain ranges. Most of the conservation in the Great Basin region encompasses the “range” portion, and not the “basin.” Protecting Coal and Garden Valleys will safeguard some of the most unspoiled valleys in all of the Great Basin, protecting an intact basin and range landscape while ensuring an important and uniquely American work of art can be enjoyed by generations to come. To learn more visit Protect Basin and Range.

Deschutes Canyon Area, Oregon

Deschutes Canyon - Gina Gooman-Campbell

Central Oregon’s confluence of Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River provides a lifeblood for threatened and endangered fish, bobcats, elk, mule deer and golden eagles. Citizens from Central Oregon have been working to protect a roughly 18,000 acre proposed wilderness centered around Steelhead Falls WSA. For more information about the area and prospects for the campaign, contact Friends and Neighbors of Deschutes Canyon Area and the Oregon Natural Desert Association.

Dolores River Basin, Colorado

Dolores River Canyon - Kate Thompson

For years, local advocates in southwestern Colorado have been painstakingly working through complicated issues of river flow, water rights, dam releases, aquatic and terrestrial habitat quality and endangered species to advance permanent protection for the river and associated wildlands. For more information, contact San Juan Citizen’s Alliance and Dolores River Boating Advocates.

Gold Butte, Nevada

Gold Butte - Tyler Roemer

About 2.5 hours northeast of Las Vegas sits the 350,000-acre Gold Butte region. Sandwiched between Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the west and south and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument to the east, the region is a largely unprotected area loaded with geological, archeological and wildlife values. For more information on the decade-long effort to protect the region, check out Friends of Gold Butte and Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

Grapevine Mesa Joshua Tree Forest, Arizona

Grapevine Mesa

About an hour north of Kingman, Arizona and directly adjacent to the community of Meadview, the 44,000 acre Grapevine Mesa Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) has recognized the area for its dense, massive Joshua tree forests. Yet, the ACEC provides only “paper” protection. Concerned citizens from Meadview have formed Friends of the Joshua Tree Forest to advocate for its permanent protection as a national monument.


Santa Cruz Redwoods, California

Santa Cruz Redwoods hike

The focus of this campaign is on 5,800 acres of redwood forests, coastal prairies, canyons, grazing lands and watersheds, locally known as “Coast Dairies,” located on the Santa Cruz coast inland of Highway 1 just north of Wilder Ranch State Park and south of Swanton Pacific Ranch. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Coast Dairies is an integral piece of the protected lands in Santa Cruz County, which include state and local parks, private nature preserves, a National Marine Sanctuary, agricultural lands, public beaches, and more. For more information go to SantaCruzRedwoods.org.

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