National Landscape Conservation System

National Landscape Conservation System

The National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) is a 27 million acres (110,000 km2) collection of the lands considered to be the crown jewels of the American west. NLCS is also known as National Conservation Lands. These lands represent 10% of the 258 million acres (1,040,000 km2) managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM is the largest federal public land manager and is responsible for over 40% of all the federal public land in the nation. The other major federal public land managers include the US Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service (NPS), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Over the years, the Bureau of Land Management has had to adjust its approach to public land management to fit the changing needs of the nation. The BLM historically has managed lands under its jurisdiction for extractive uses, such as mining, logging, grazing, and oil and gas production. In 1996, President Clinton significantly shifted this role when he established the first national monument to be administered by the BLM—the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. With this and several similar designations, a new focus emerged that would become part of how the agency looks at the land it manages: the protection of special areas where conservation and restoration of the landscape and its biological or cultural resources is the overriding objective.

The Bureau of Land Management's National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) was created in 2000 with the mission to "conserve, protect, and restore these nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations."[1]

The System helps clarify the fundamental purposes of these places. It provides a frame whereby the mission and vision for the management and use of these lands can be better understood. There are ten different federal conservation designations for the units that make up the National Landscape Conservation System:

These crown jewels are some of the last places to experience the history and wild beauty of the American West, with hunting, fishing, access to the rugged outdoors, and opportunities to create your own adventure. The protection of these lands also facilitates the protection of archaeological structures and sites, providing people with the rare opportunity to connect with the nation’s past. The Conservation System also plays a critical role in preserving the ecology of the rapidly changing western landscape. The Conservation System helps maintain complex desert, forest, and grassland ecosystems and numerous watersheds. The landscapes provide the connective tissue that sustains biodiversity and seasonal wildlife migration patterns for countless wildlife species.

The Conservation System was created in 2000, but without Congressional authorization, there was no guarantee that the System would be permanent. The National Landscape Conservation System Act was signed into law in March 2009. The Act permanently unified the individual units as a public lands System, protecting the System in law so that it would no longer exist at the pleasure of each president. This marked the first new congressionally authorized public lands system in decades. The permanence of the System will allow the American public to engage Congress to help ensure that the Conservation System is appropriately managed and funded, and ensure that the lands are protected for future generations.

The Conservation System act was included in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which also added 1,200,000 acres (4,900 km2) of new designations to the System, including a National Monument, three National Conservation Areas, Wildernes, Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Scenic Trails.


List of NLCS sites

National monuments

15 sites, total 4,806,947 acres (19,453 km²)

Monument State
Agua Fria Arizona
California Coastal California
Canyons of the Ancients Colorado
Carrizo Plain California
Cascade–Siskiyou Oregon
Craters of the Moon Idaho
Grand Canyon-Parashant Arizona
Grand Staircase-Escalante Utah
Ironwood Forest Arizona
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks New Mexico
Pompeys Pillar Montana
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains California
Sonoran Desert Arizona
Upper Missouri River Breaks Montana
Vermilion Cliffs Arizona

National conservation areas

13 sites, total 14,101,234 acres (62,354 km²)

Conservation Area State
Black Rock Desert – High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails Nevada
California Desert & Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve California
El Malpais New Mexico
Fort Stanton – Snowy River Cave New Mexico
Gila Box Riparian Arizona
Gunnison Gorge Colorado
King Range California
Las Cienegas Arizona
McInnis Canyons Colorado
Red Rock Canyon Nevada
San Pedro Riparian Arizona
Sloan Canyon Nevada
Snake River Birds of Prey Idaho
Steese Alaska

Wilderness areas

177 sites, total 7,327,632 acres (29,654 km2)

Wilderness area State BLM area (acre) km²
Aravaipa Canyon Arizona 19,700 80
Argus Range Argus Range California 61,995 251
Arrastra Mountain Arizona 129,800 525
Arrow Canyon Nevada 27,530 111
Aubrey Peak Arizona 15,400 62
Baboquivari Peak Arizona 2,040 8
Beaver Dam Mountains Arizona 15,000 6,1
Beaver Dam Mountains Utah 2,600 11
Becky Peak Nevada 18,120 73.3
Big Horn Mountains Arizona 21,000 85
Big Maria Mountains Big Maria Mountains California 45,367 184
Big Rocks Nevada 12,997 53
Bigelow Cholla Garden California 13,548 55
Bighorn Mountain California 26,573 108
Bisti/De-Na-Zin New Mexico 38,381 155
Black Mountain California 20,537 83
Black Ridge Canyons Colorado 70,319 285
Black Ridge Canyons Utah 5,120 21
Black Rock Desert Nevada 314,829 1274
Bright Star California 8,190 33
Bristol Mountains Bristol Mountains California 70,026 283
Cadiz Dunes California 19,308 78
Calico Mountains Nevada 64,984 263
Carrizo Gorge California 14,735 60
Cebolla New Mexico 61,500 249
Cedar Mountain Utah 101,400 410
Chemehuevi Mountains California 85,801 347
Chimney Peak California 13,105 53
Chuckwalla Mountains California 86,527 350
Cleghorn Lakes California 33,475 135
Clipper Mountain California 33,905 137
Clover Mountains Nevada 85,748 347
Coso Range Coso Range California 49,274 199
Cottonwood Point Arizona 6,860 28
Coyote Mountains Arizona 5,100 21
Coyote Mountains Coyote Mountains California 18,622 75
Darwin Falls California 8,176 33
Dead Mountains Dead Mountains California 46,822 189
Delamar Mountains Nevada 111,328 451
Domeland California 39,273 159
Dos Cabezas Mountains Arizona 11,700 47
Eagletail Mountains Arizona 97,880 396
East Cactus Plain Arizona 14,630 59
East Fork High Rock Canyon Nevada 52,617 213
El Dorado Nevada 5,700 23
El Paso Mountains California 23,659 96
Far South Egans Nevada 36,384 147
Fish Creek Mountains California 21,425 87
Fishhooks Arizona 10,500 42
Fortification Range Nevada 30,656 124
Frank Church-River of No Return Idaho 802 3
Funeral Mountains Funeral Mountains California 25,696 104
Gibraltar Mountain Arizona 18,790 76
Golden Valley California 36,464 148
Grand Wash Cliffs Arizona 37,030 150
Grass Valley California 30,048 122
Gunnison Gorge Colorado 17,700 72
Harcuvar Mountains Arizona 25,050 101
Harquahala Mountains Arizona 22,880 93
Hassayampa River Canyon Arizona 12,300 50
Hells Canyon Arizona 9,311 38
Hells Canyon Oregon 1,038 4
High Rock Canyon Nevada 46,464 188
High Rock Lake Nevada 59,094 239
Hollow Hills California 22,037 89
Hummingbird Springs Arizona 31,200 126
Ibex California 28,809 117
Indian Pass California 32,083 130
Inyo Mountains Inyo Mountains California 124,970 506
Ireteba Peaks Nevada 10,446 42
Ishi California 240 1
Jacumba Jacumba Mountains California 31,237 126
Jumbo Springs Nevada 4,631 19
Juniper Dunes Washington 7,140 29
Kanab Creek Arizona 6,700 27
Kelso Dunes Kelso Dunes California 144,274 584
Kiavah California 40,933 166
Kingston Range Kingston Range California 199,525 807
La Madre Mountain Nevada 27,879 113
Lee Metcalf Montana 6,000 24
Lime Canyon Nevada 23,233 94
Little Chuckwalla Mountains Chuckwalla Mountains California 28,019 113
Little High Rock Canyon Nevada 48,353 196
Little Picacho California 38,182 155
Machesna Mountain California 120 0.5
Malpais Mesa California 32,008 130
Manly Peak California 12,889 52
Meadow Valley Range Nevada 123,488 500
Mecca Hills Mecca Hills California 26,314 106
Mesquite California Mesquite Mountains 44,877 180
Mormon Mountains Nevada 157,938 639
Mount Charleston Nevada 2,142 9
Mount Irish Nevada 28,334 115
Mount Logan Arizona 14,650 59
Mount Moriah Nevada 6,435 26
Mount Nutt Arizona 28,080 114
Mount Tipton Arizona 31,380 127
Mount Trumbull Arizona 7,880 32
Mount Wilson Arizona 23,900 97
Muddy Mountains Nevada 44,498 180
Muggins Mountains Arizona 7,711 31
Needle's Eye Arizona 8,760 35
New Water Mountains Arizona 24,600 100
Newberry Mountains Newberry Mountains (California) California 20,308 82
Nopah Range California Nopah Range 106,579 431
North Algodones Dunes California 25,818 104
North Black Rock Range Nevada 30,647 124
North Jackson Mountains Nevada 23,438 95
North Maricopa Mountains Arizona 63,200 256
North McCullough Nevada 14,763 60
North Mesquite Mountains Mesquite Mountains California 28,943 117
North Santa Teresa Arizona 5,800 23
Ojito New Mexico 11,298 46
Old Woman Mountains California 162,984 660
Orocopia Mountains Orocopia Mountains California 46,093 187
Otay Mountain California 16,885 68
Owens Peak California 73,573 298
Pahrump Valley Pahrump Valley California 74,378 301
Pahute Peak Nevada 56,890 230
Paiute Arizona 87,900 356
Palen/McCoy Palen Mountains-McCoy Mountains California 212,982 862
Palo Verde Mountains Palo Verde Mountains California 29,167 118
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Arizona 89,400 362
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Utah 20,000 81
Parsnip Peak Nevada 43,693 177
Peloncillo Mountains Arizona 19,440 79
Picacho Peak California 8,853 36
Piper Mountain California 72,152 292
Piute Mountains Piute Mountains California 48,044 194
Powderhorn Colorado 48,115 195
Rainbow Mountain Nevada 20,311 82
Rawhide Mountains Arizona 38,470 156
Redfield Canyon Arizona 6,600 27
Resting Spring Range Resting Spring Range California 76,280 309
Rice Valley California 41,643 169
Riverside Mountains Riverside Mountains California 24,029 97
Rodman Mountains Rodman Mountains California 29,793 121
Sacatar Trail California 50,483 204
Saddle Peak Hills Saddle Peak Hills California 1,528 6
San Gorgonio California 38,507 156
Santa Lucia Santa Lucia Range California 1,812 7
Santa Rosa California 56,671 229
Sawtooth Mountains California 33,598 136
Sheephole Valley California 186,673 755
Sierra Estrella Arizona 14,400 58
Signal Mountain Arizona 13,350 54
South Jackson Mountains Nevada 54,535 221
South Maricopa Mountains Arizona 60,100 243
South McCullough Nevada 44,245 179
South Nopah Range California 17,050 69
South Pahroc Range Nevada 25,800 104
Spirit Mountain Nevada 605 2
Stateline California 7,012 28
Steens Mountain Oregon 170,025 688
Stepladder Mountains California 83,527 338
Surprise Canyon California 24,373 99
Swansea Arizona 16,400 66
Sylvania Mountains California 18,677 76
Table Rock Oregon 5,500 22
Table Top Arizona 34,400 139
Tres Alamos Arizona 8,300 34
Trigo Mountains Arizona 30,300 123
Trilobite California 29,626 120
Trinity Alps California 4,471 18
Tunnel Spring Nevada 5,371 22
Turtle Mountains Turtle Mountains (California) California 177,174 717
Uncompahgre Colorado 3,390 14
Upper Burro Creek Arizona 27,440 111
Ventana California 723 3
Wabayuma Peak Arizona 38,944 158
Warm Springs Arizona 112,400 455
Wee Thump Joshua Tree Nevada 6,050 24
Weepah Spring Nevada 51,480 208
West Malpais New Mexico 39,400 159
Whipple Mountains California 76,063 308
White Canyon Arizona 5,790 23
White Rock Range Nevada 24,413 99
Wild Rogue Oregon 10,160 41
Woolsey Peak Arizona 64,000 259
Worthington Range Nevada 30,664 124
Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel California 7,125 29

Wilderness study areas

604 sites, total 15,566,656 acres (62,966 km²)

  • Abert Rim Wilderness Study Area
  • Aden Lava Flow Wilderness Study Area
  • Adobe Badlands Wilderness Study Area
  • Adobe Town Wilderness Study Area
  • Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness Study Area
  • Alamo Hueco Mountains Wilderness Study Area
  • Alder Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Aldrich Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Alkali Basin - East Sand Dunes Wilderness Study Area
  • Alkali Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Alkali Draw Wilderness Study Area
  • Alvord Desert Wilderness Study Area
  • American Flats Wilderness Study Area
  • Ant Hills Wilderness Study Area
  • Antelope Wilderness Study Area
  • Antelope Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Antelope Range Wilderness Study Area
  • Apache Box Wilderness Study Area
  • Apache Box Add-on Wilderness Study Area
  • Appendicitis Hill Wilderness Study Area
  • Augusta Mountains Wilderness Study Area
  • Avawatz Mountains Wilderness Study Area
  • Axolotl Lakes Wilderness Study Area
  • Bad Lands Wilderness Study Area
  • Baker Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Basque Hills Wilderness Study Area
  • Bear Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Bear Den Butte Wilderness Study Area
  • Bear Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Beauty Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Beaver Dam Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Beaver Meadows Wilderness Study Area
  • Behind The Rocks Wilderness Study Area
  • Bell/Limekiln Canyons Wilderness Study Area
  • Bennett Mountains Wilderness Study Area
  • Big Butte Wilderness Study Area
  • Big Hatchet Mountains Wilderness Study Area
  • Big Horn Tack-on Wilderness Study Area
  • Bill Hare Gulch Wilderness Study Area
  • Billy Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Bitterbrush Wilderness Study Area
  • Black Butte Wilderness Study Area
  • Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Black Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Black Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Black Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Black Ridge Canyon West Wilderness Study Area
  • Black Sage Wilderness Study Area
  • Blacktail Mountains Wilderness Study Area
  • Blitzen River Wilderness Study Area
  • Blue Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Blue Canyon Add-on Wilderness Study Area
  • Blue Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Blue Eagle Wilderness Study Area
  • Blue Lakes Wilderness Study Area
  • Bluebell Wilderness Study Area
  • Bobcat Draw Badlands Wilderness Study Area
  • Bodie Wilderness Study Area
  • Bodie Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Book Cliffs Mountain Browse Wilderness Study Area
  • Borah Peak Wilderness Study Area
  • Boulder Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Bowden Hills Wilderness Study Area
  • Box Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Brewer Spruce Wilderness Study Area
  • Bridge Coulee Wilderness Study Area
  • Bridge Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Bridger Jack Mesa Wilderness Study Area
  • Brokeoff Mountains Wilderness Study Area
  • Browns Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Buffalo Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Buffalo Hills Wilderness Study Area
  • Buffalo Hump Wilderness Study Area
  • Bull Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Bull Gulch Wilderness Study Area
  • Bull Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Burbank Canyons Wilderness Study Area
  • Burning Hills Wilderness Study Area
  • Burnt Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Burnt Lodge Wilderness Study Area
  • Burnt Timber Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Butler Wash Wilderness Study Area
  • Cactus Plain Wilderness Study Area
  • Goshute Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Little Humboldt River Wilderness Study Area
  • Marble Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Massacre Rim Wilderness Study Area
  • Million Hills Wilderness Study Area
  • Morey Peak Wilderness Study Area
  • Mount Grafton Wilderness Study Area
  • Mount Limbo Wilderness Study Area
  • Mount Stirling Wilderness Study Area
  • Mountain Meadow Wilderness Study Area
  • North Fork Little Humboldt Wilderness Study Area
  • Owyhee Canyon Wilderness Study Area
  • Palisade Mesa Wilderness Study Area
  • Park Range Wilderness Study Area
  • Pigeon Spring Wilderness Study Area
  • Pinyon Joshua Transit Wilderness Study Area
  • Pole Creek Wilderness Study Area
  • Poodle Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Pueblo Mountains Wilderness Study Area
  • Queer Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Rawhide Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Red Spring Wilderness Study Area
  • Resting Springs Wilderness Study Area
  • Riordan's Well Wilderness Study Area
  • Roberts Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Rough Hills Wilderness Study Area
  • Selenite Mountains Wilderness Study Area
  • Sheldon Contiguous Wilderness Study Area
  • Shoshone Ponds Wilderness Study Area
  • Shoshone Pygmy Sage Wilderness Study Area
  • Silver Peak Range Wilderness Study Area
  • Simpson Park Wilderness Study Area
  • Skedaddle Wilderness Study Area
  • South Egan Range Wilderness Study Area
  • South Fork Owyhee River Wilderness Study Area
  • South Pequop Wilderness Study Area
  • South Reveille Wilderness Study Area
  • Stillwater Range Wilderness Study Area
  • Sunrise Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Swamp Cedar Wilderness Study Area
  • The Wall Wilderness Study Area
  • Tobin Range Wilderness Study Area
  • Twin Peaks Wilderness Study Area
  • Virgin Mountain Wilderness Study Area
  • Wall Canyon Wilderness Study Area

National historic trails

10 sites, total 4,563 miles (7343 km)

National scenic trails

2 units, total 640 miles (1030 km)

National wild and scenic rivers

38 sites, total 2,061 miles (3317 km)

See List of National Wild and Scenic Rivers


Site State BLM area (acre) km²
Headwaters Forest Reserve California 7,472 30
Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area Oregon 428,156 1,733
White Mountains National Recreation Area Alaska 998,702 4,042
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area Oregon 100 0.4

See also


  1. ^ National Landscape Conservation System, U.S. Bureau of Land Management accessed 2-28-06

External links

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