Welcome to Wilderness Wednesday! 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary, we will dedicate every Wednesday this year to encourage you to visit some of the 62 BLM-managed Wilderness or Wilderness Study Areas in New Mexico.
On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. This landmark Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System, which now protects 100 million acres in the U.S. that retain their primeval character and influence. In 1976, Congress directed the BLM, through the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, to identify its lands having wilderness characteristics, as described in the Wilderness Act. These areas are known as Wilderness Study Areas and are managed to protect wilderness characteristics until Congress determines to designate them as Wilderness under the Wilderness Act, or dedicate them to other purposes. In New Mexico, five BLM areas have been designated as Wilderness, and 57 WSAs await Congressional action.
Let’s start Wilderness Wednesday with one of the easiest BLM Wilderness areas to access…the Cebolla Wilderness and La Ventana Arch. About an hour west of Albuquerque, this area is within the El Malpais National Conservation Area. From Interstate 40, turn south on Highway 117 and drive approximately 17 ½ miles to the parking area on the left. The 135 foot sandstone arch is within the Wilderness and is visible from the road - it’s only a few minute walk to a viewing area below the arch. The Cebolla Wilderness is 61,600 acres and was designated in 1987. Please visit our website for more details, maps, and a downloadable brochure about the area: www.blm.gov/nm/cebolla.
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