Urgent Call to Action: Vote in D.C. today to defund our National Conservation Lands

Dear Friends,

I am contacting you today with an urgent request. Please take the next five minutes to contact your Congressperson today to urge her/him to vote against Continuing Resolution Amendments No. 92, 203 and 515. Each of these amendments would compromise our National Conservation Lands (formally known as the National Landscape Conservation System) by eliminating funds to properly manage the lands and by eliminating an important conservation tool to expand the National Conservation Lands. The vote is scheduled to take place at 4:00 p.m. EST today. You can reach the US House of Representatives switchboard operator at 202-224-3121. You can also find the number for your individual representatives at http://clerk.house.gov.

Amendment 515 was introduced late Tuesday evening by Rob Bishop (R-UT). This amendment would completely eliminate funding for the National Conservation Lands. This means NO funding for more than 27 million acres of the BLM’s most prized lands. Pat Williams from the Friends of Red Rock Canyon explained to the media yesterday, if this amendment passes, “Red Rock Canyon would close to the public.” This means no rangers, no sign & trail maintenance, no hunting and fishing permits, etc.

When introducing his amendment, Rep. Bishop said, “I have yet to see a compelling example of how our nation benefits from adding another expensive layer of bureaucracy to the management of our public lands. Millions of dollars are wasted each year at the NLCS to fund a superfluous and unnecessary bureaucracy.

Amendments 92 and 203 would effectively eliminate one of our nation’s greatest conservation tools – the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act is deeply rooted in American history. Since it was first used by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been utilized (most recently by President George W. Bush) to protect our nation’s most recognizable public treasures from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty. The President’s authority to create new National Monuments on public land already owned and used by the American people should not be curtailed or compromised.

Thank you for your ongoing support and prompt response to this request.



Danielle C. Sandstedt
Conservation Lands Foundation, Development Director
W 970-247-0807 Ext. 14

To learn more about the actions taken by the Conservation Lands Foundation to mobilize our network of local partners to take action, please read on:

CLF drafted and circulated a sign-on letter against all three amendments. In less than 24 hours, 30 groups from across the nation signed on to the letter. This letter was distributed to the entire House of Representatives on Wednesday morning. Read the Sign On Letter.

CLF held a call with the press on Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. EDT. We briefed and assembled spokespeople to discuss how Amendment No. 515 would be devastating to their communities and the National Monuments/National Conservation Areas they work to protect. We invited reporters from across the nation to join the call. Read our Press Advisory. We are continuing to see media outlets pick up this story. Groups Blast Bishop Over ‘Gutting’ Landscape Conservation

National Conservation Lands video on Assignment: Earth

Here’s a great little video describing America’s National Conservation Lands, the system of special places I work to protect.

To support the great people working hard to protect America’s natural and cultural heritage, please check out the Conservation Lands Foundation.

Celebrate 10 years of Ironwood Forest National Monument this Saturday

This Saturday, I’m headed down towards Tucson for what is sure to be a great event. The Friends of Ironwood Forest are hosting a celebration marking the 10-year anniversary of Ironwood Forest National Monument and the National Conservation Lands (also known by its more cumbersome name, the National Landscape Conservation System).

There’s still time to get in on the event—you can even register online.

Ironwood Forest National Monument is one of those places that you may not have been to—or even heard of, for that matter—but which protects important aspects of what makes Arizona great, from the classic Sonoran Desert saguaro forests to rugged desert mountain views to prehistoric ruins and historic artifacts.

So come join us on Saturday. You’ll learn more about makes Ironwood Forest National Monument worthy of protection and you’ll hear about some inspiring work the local Friends of Ironwood Forest are doing.

Here’s the event press release:

Local Volunteers to Mark 10th Anniversary of Ironwood Forest

Congressman Grijalva and Noted Author to Take Part in Celebration

Wednesday, June 2, Tucson, AZ — Friends of Ironwood Forest will host the official 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Ironwood Forest National Monument on Saturday, June 5th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m, with special guests Congressman Raul Grijalva and noted Sonoran Desert author Gary Nabhan.

The Monument is part of the National Landscape Conservation System, a collection of some of the country’s most scenic, historic, natural and cultural sites known as the National Conservation Lands.  Friends of Ironwood Forest, a local volunteer-based, non-profit group, provides critical support to protect and promote the Monument while working to educate the public about its extraordinary natural treasures.

Ironwood Forest, located 25 miles northwest of Tucson in southern Arizona, was created in 2000 to protect the amazing cultural and biological resources found in the area.  The Monument contains more than 129,000 acres of Sonoran Desert habitat and includes the Silver Bell, Sawtooth and Waterman Mountain Ranges.  Named for the unique desert Ironwood tree, the site has an astounding diversity of plant and animal life.

Ironwood Forest NM is an example of the many places within the National Conservation Lands that are home to rare plants and animals and Native American sites.  These lands offer a national connection to the last places where one can experience the history and beauty of the American West.

Ironwood’s 10th anniversary celebration will be held at the Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, 4949 W. Heritage Club Blvd., Marana, AZ 85658.  For more information on Friends of Ironwood Forest and the anniversary event, visit www.ironwoodforest.org.

Perry Mesa exhibit at Pueblo Grande Museum

Here’s a great opportunity to learn more about Agua Fria National Monument without making the drive up there.

From the BLM:

BLM Partners with Museum, ASU, and Tonto National Forest on Perry Mesa Exhibit:
Agua Fria National Monument staff have been working with the Pueblo Grande Museum, Arizona State University (ASU) researchers, Tonto National Forest officials, and others to help develop a Museum exhibit about Perry Mesa. Perry Mesa is the dominant geographic feature in the Agua Fria National Monument. The 50,000-acre Perry Mesa National Register District, which spans the Monument and part of the adjacent Tonto National Forest, was designated to recognize the significance and extent of the archaeology on Perry Mesa. Originally designated in 1975, the District was expanded in 1996 and is now one of the largest prehistoric districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The exhibit will highlight the history, ecology, rock art “petroglyphs,” artifacts, and pueblo ruins in the area, and their connections to the entire central Arizona landscape and other cultures. The nearly 3,000 square foot exhibit opens March 5, 2010, and will be on display for one year at the Pueblo Grande Museum.

Free tour of Ironwood Forest National Monument—Mar 20

Ragged Top, Ironwood Forest National Monument

Friends of Ironwood Forest and the Bureau of Land Management invite you to a

Free Tour of the Ironwood Forest National Monument
on Saturday, March 20

Spend a day in one of southern Arizona’s most treasurered landscapes as we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Ironwood Forest National Monument. Throughout the tour, BLM speakers and resource specialists will share the history and cultural heritage within the Monument, as well as highlight the diverse vegetation and wildlife surrounding the Ironwood trees, for which the Monument was named. Limited seats available; please register by March 8.

Schedule of activities

Saturday, March 20, 2010
8 a.m. – Meet at Cortaro Rd. & I-10 Park and Ride Lot. Exit 246.
9:30 a.m. – Visit base of Ragged Top
11:30 a.m. – Depart for lunch and desert hike.
12 p.m. – Lunch (Bring your own), then desert hike OR drive to historic Silver Bell Cemetary (45 minute drive).
3:30 p.m. – Arrive at Cortaro Rd. & I-10 Park and Ride.

Directions and transportation

Free transportation from Park & Ride will be provided. From Tucson, take I-10 west. Take exit 246 and turn west (left) at N. Cortaro Rd. Your first right enters into the McDonald’s parking lot and the park and ride.

Register now

Click here to register for this free event. Tour size is limited and filling quickly. [update: the tour is full, but there is a waiting list; you can also ask about additional opportunities to tour the Monument from Lahsha below]

For more information

Lahsha Brown
Friends of Ironwood Forest

IFNM 10th Anniversary Tour Invitation

Restore a native grassland and an historic trail this weekend

There are two great volunteer opportunities this week in National Conservation Lands here in Arizona. If you have some time, please consider getting involved. Check out the Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona to register.

Las Cienegas NCA Road Closure and Restoration Weekend

Feb 19 – Feb 21

Experience a lush desert grassland just an hour southeast of Tucson in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. We will be out there closing and re-habilitating roads identified by the BLM in the Resource Management Plan for closure.

Work will include using hand tools to break up and re-vegetate the road surface. There are a variety of tasks available from light planting work to heavy lifting and shoveling. Sky Island Alliance will provide the training and materials needed to do the field work. You will need to bring everything you need for 2 days/nights of car camping. Everyone is responsible for his or her own meals and you are welcome to use our stove set up and/or grill. Don’t forget the basics such as food, water, rain gear, tent and a sleeping bag. Another option is just come out to help for one day (Saturday). Please send a response email for further information. Schedule: Friday -meet in camp in the pm, somebody from SIA will be there by 5pm Saturday -work all day, campfire at night Sunday -work through the afternoon and then head home by 2 or 3 pm.

Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Minimum Age: None
Age Group: All Ages
Max Group Size: 1
Volunteers Needed: 20
Contact Person: Sarah Williams
sarah@skyislandalliance.org 520-624-7080 x23

Historic Anza Trail Restoration in Sonoran Desert National Monument

Feb 20, 2010

Anza Trail Coalition, Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona Wilderness Coalition and the Sierra Club are sponsoring this event to have volunteers restore a portion of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail that was damaged by off-road vehicle use within Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Volunteers will restore areas damaged by off-road vehicle use. The restoration work will include digging, scraping, and raking to breakup compacted soils and obliterate vehicle tracks. The work requires the use of basic hand tools designed for trail maintenance—Pulaski, McCleod, steel-tined rake, and shovel. Work difficulty ranges from easy to challenging. There will be some native plant relocation activities. Volunteers are advised to wear sturdy shoes and dress appropriately for working outdoors. Please bring work gloves and a water bottle or canteen. There will be campsites available for those to choose to camp. A volunteer information sheet and map are available.

Difficulty Rating: Moderately Easy
Minimum Age: None
Age Group: All Ages
Max Group Size: 10
Volunteers Needed: 50
Contact Person: Thomas Hulen
thom@sonorandesertfriends.org (602) 619-9717

A successful birthday for Agua Fria National Monument

Cutting the Agua Fria National Monument’s 10th birthday cake

I’ve previously mentioned last week’s 10-year anniversary celebration of Agua Fria National Monument (and the National Landscape Conservation System), so I thought I should post an update on how it went.

I spoke with the BLM yesterday and the event wildly surpassed our estimates. We had projected about 500 attendees, but were surprised when more than 2,200 showed up.


There was a steady stream all day and the giveaways went quickly. Hell, the event programs were gone well before things really got rolling. BLM stopped counting after 800 vehicles. The Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument and the Friends of Sonoran Desert National Monument were both there, along with many other great organizations.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the planning (especially the Friends!), volunteered and performed at the event, and of course, all of you who came out to commemorate the Monument’s birthday. I hope everyone had a blast celebrating one of the state’s coolest places.

Now, check out some of the other celebrations.

Celebrate the Conservation System in Arizona

It’s been nearly 10 years since the creation of the National Landscape Conservation System – America’s newest system of protected lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management. That’s all a mouthful to say that it’s been a decade (and sometimes two) since some of the most interesting, most wild, and mostly-unknown special places in Arizona were set aside to protect our rich natural and cultural heritage.

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

I have the pleasure of working daily with many local partners, including the Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument, Friends of Ironwood Forest, Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Friends of the San Pedro River, Cienega Watershed Partnership, and others, in helping to make sure these treasured places can be enjoyed by future generations.

These are places worth celebrating, and this milestone marks a great opportunity to do much more to ensure the vision of Conservation System is realized. Please join me in celebrating how far we’ve come and in helping us get to where we need to be.

Here’s the listing of activities from the BLM:

The BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) contains some of the West’s most spectacular landscapes. Arizona manages 5 national monuments, 3 national conservation areas, 2 national historic trails, a portion of 1 national scenic trail, 47 wilderness areas and 2 wilderness study areas. These national treasures were designated by Congress or Presidential Proclamation.
We are excited to be hosting a series of events throughout the year and across the state of Arizona to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the National Landscape Conservation System. Arizona is rich in areas designated as NLCS units; National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas; National Historic and National Scenic Trails. So take a look, choose one, or more, and celebrate with BLM these treasured landscapes. Landscapes to conserve, protect and restore.


January 8, 2010 – 9:00 a.m. – 12:00; 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Presentations

Grand Canyon-Parashant & Vermilion Cliffs National Monuments: A one-day symposium being planned for Friday, January 8, 2010, in St. George, Utah will feature a keynote speaker and managers’ panel to address the history and establishment of the monuments. Other sessions will highlight research and partnerships.

Contact: Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialist
Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790
435-688-3303/Cell 435-680-0814/Fax 435-688-3358

January 8, 2010
Black Canyon National Recreation Trail Celebration: The 10th Anniversary Outdoor Fair will be coordinated with the January 8, 2010, Trail/ARRA celebration of the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail event, five miles west of the Agua Fria National Monument.

Contact: Rem Hawes, Manager, Agua Fria National Monument
Hassayampa Field Office, 21605 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027

January 9, 2010 – beginning at 11:00 a.m.
Agua Fria National Monument: The BLM will hold a 10th Anniversary event on January 9, 2010, at the scenic Horseshoe Ranch within the national monument. The Friends of Agua Fria will be assisting in planning, preparing for, and conducting the event. The event will include entertainment, speakers, dispersed lectures, displays and visitor booths, offer activities for adults and children.

Contact: Rem Hawes, Manager, Agua Fria National Monument
Hassayampa Field Office, 21605 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027

March 20, 2010
Ironwood Forest National Monument Public Tours: BLM staff will visit areas of the IFNM to offer information on the various resources in the monument.

Contact: Mark Lambert, Manager, Ironwood Forest National Monument
Tucson Field Office, 12661 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85748

March 27, 2010
Ironwood Forest National Monument Work Day: Projects being considered include: shooting site cleanup, road repair, buffelgrass removal, and putting up signs.

Contact: Mark Lambert, Manager, Ironwood Forest National Monument
Tucson Field Office, 12661 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85748

Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area: 2010 is the 20th anniversary of the NCA’s designation by Congress through the Arizona Desert Wilderness Act of 1990 as well as the 10th anniversary of the NLCS.
Gila Box Day. A one-day event will be held on a Saturday in March 2010. It will begin with a series of short presentations on natural and cultural history at the SFO conference room. These will cover topics such as archaeology, history, wildlife, native fish, and recreation. Following the talks, the public can then caravan in their own vehicles to the west end of the Gila Box where people can enjoy their own picnic lunches at the Flying W Group Day Use Area. That will be the starting point for a series of walks; participants can chose one that best matches their interest.
Recreation/Cultural Track: A guided 1.5-mile walk on the Cottonwood Trail will include stops at the Kearny Historical Monument, Serna Cabin, and Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area, ending at the Flying W and Riverview Campground.
Wildlife Track: A guided foray along Bonita Creek will focus on birding, beavers, and other wildlife that might be seen in the riparian area. A stop at the Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area and a stroll along the riparian corridor will be included.
Fisheries Track: Participants can visit the Bonita Creek Nonnative Fish Barrier and learn about the nine species of native fish (highest number of any Arizona waterway) that inhabit the creek and BLM’s cooperative efforts to protect them. There will be opportunities to view some fish.
Contact: Diane Drobka, Public Affairs Specialist
Safford Field Office, 711 14th Avenue, Safford, AZ 85546

May 8, 2010
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: The 10th Anniversary of the NLCS will be celebrated on SPRNCA at the San Pedro House in conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day, May 8, 2010. This celebration will focus in on the diversity of these specially designated areas that the BLM manages. Activities will include presentations, displays, and guided and unguided hikes.

June 5, 2010
Ironwood Forest National Monument Social Event: A catered, evening social event, potentially at the Heritage Clubhouse in Marana. Short presentations will be aligned to talk about the monument and the NLCS.

Contact: Mark Lambert, Manager, Ironwood Forest National Monument
Tucson Field Office, 12661 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85748

Evening on the Arizona Strip: A closing event the second week in November 2010 would tie into the annual ASIA-sponsored “Evening on the Arizona Strip”. A keynote speaker would be the primary spotlight. The event will likely reflect a pioneer or historic theme as has been a custom of past “Evening” events.

Contact: Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialist
Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790
435-688-3303/Cell 435-680-0814/Fax 435-688-3358
Events Without Confirmed Dates

Brown Bag Lunch Education Programs: The Arizona Strip Interpretive Association will hold regularly scheduled brown bag lunch education programs throughout the year, and several will focus on 10th anniversary themes and topics.

Contact: Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialist
Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790
435-688-3303/Cell 435-680-0814/Fax 435-688-3358

Wilderness Photo Contest: The Lake Havasu Field Office is considering aphoto contest highlighting wilderness areas of the field office or possibly of the district is under consideration.

Contact: Paul Fuselier, Wilderness Specialist
Lake Havasu Field Office, 2610 Sweetwater Avenue, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86406

National Landscape Conservation System Brown Bag Lunch Seminars in the Safford Field Office: The SFO currently hosts monthly talks throughout the year on a variety of topics related to natural and cultural history. These are open to the public and are well attended. Some have also involved field trips. In 2010, these talks will focus on the National Landscape Conservation System. There are eight NLCS units – six wilderness areas, one wilderness study area, and the Gila Box RNCA – within the SFO boundaries and a multitude of topics that can be featured.

Contact: Diane Drobka, Public Affairs Specialist
Safford Field Office, 711 14th Avenue, Safford, AZ 85546

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail:
The Painted Rock Petroglyph Site Campground, about 20 miles northwest of Gila Bend, Arizona, is the site of an anniversary event to be planned to recognize the Anza NHT as part of the NLCS. The event would occur in spring or fall of 2010.

Contacts: Rich Hanson, Manager, Sonoran Desert National Monument
rich_hanson@blm.gov, 623-580-5532
Cheryl Blanchard, Archaeologist, Anza NHT liaison
cheryl_blanchard@blm.gov, 623-580-5676
Lower Sonoran Field Office, 21605 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027

There is an additional celebration being planned for Sonoran Desert National Monument, which is tentatively planned for December 4, 2010. I’ll provide additional details when I receive them.

A permanent National Landscape Conservation System

Less than two hours ago, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, one of the most important conservation bills of the last decade. In addition to establishing three new National Park units, protecting 2 million acres of wilderness and 1,100 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers, the act made an important bureaucratic change – one that may not seem like much on its face, but may indeed play a major role in the future of public lands conservation. It permanently authorized the National Landscape Conservation System, which incorporates more than 26 million acres of the most culturally and ecological important lands managed the Bureau of Land Management. More on the Conservation System in another post. In the meanwhie, you can watch the bill signing below and reading the President’s signing statement.

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Here is the official signing statement:


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 30, 2009


Today I have signed into law H.R. 146, the “Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.” This landmark bill will protect millions of acres of Federal land as wilderness, protect more than 1,000 miles of rivers through the National Wild and Scenic River System, and designate thousands of miles of trails for the National Trails System. It also will authorize the 26 million-acre National Landscape Conservation System within the Department of the Interior.

Among other provisions, H.R. 146 designates three new units in our National Park System, enlarges the boundaries of several existing parks, and designates a number of National Heritage Areas. It creates a new national monument — the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument –- and four new national conservation areas, and establishes the Wyoming Range Withdrawal Area. It establishes a collaborative landscape-scale restoration program with a goal of reducing the risk of wildfire and authorizes programs to study and research the effects of climate change on natural resources and other research-related activities.

Treasured places from coast to coast will benefit from H.R. 146, including Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan; Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia; Oregon’s Mount Hood; Idaho’s Owyhee Canyons; the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado; Zion National Park in Utah; remarkable landscapes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California; and wilderness-quality National Forest lands in Virginia and public lands in New Mexico.

This bipartisan bill has been many years in the making, and is one of the most important pieces of natural resource legislation in decades. This legislation also makes progress for which millions of Americans have long waited on another front. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act is the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis. It creates new coordinated research activities through the National Institutes of Health that will connect the best minds and best practices from the best labs across the country, and focus their efforts through collaborative scientific research into a cure for paralysis, saving effort, money, and, most importantly, time. It will promote enhanced rehabilitation services for paralyzed Americans, helping develop better equipment and technology that allows them to live full and independent lives free from unnecessary barriers. This legislation will work to improve the quality of life for all those who live with paralysis, no matter the cause.

Section 8203 of the Act provides that the Secretary of the Interior shall appoint certain members of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission “based on recommendations from each member of the House of Representatives, the district of which encompasses the Corridor.” Because it would be an impermissible restriction on the appointment power to condition the Secretary’s appointments on the recommendations of members of the House, I will construe these provisions to require the Secretary to consider such congressional recommendations, but not to be bound by them in making appointments to the Commission.



March 30, 2009.

# # #

It’s taken the tremendous and relentless effort of many to pass the NLCS permanence legislation, and far more to pass the Omnibus Public Lands bill. Please join me in thanking everyone who helped make that possible, and in celebrating this momentous occasion.