The vast public lands entrusted to the Bureau of Land Management hold some of the most significant evidence of human prehistory and history in the West and Alaska, the once-untamed frontier lands that lend America so much of its self-image. These Western and Alaskan lands also count among the world's very best outdoor laboratories for studying the fossilized remains of plant and animal life, which span from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of millions of years in age.
Humans have used and occupied the public lands for more than 10,000 years. In all that time the land has changed. And more than we might realize, human use has played a significant part in changing the land.
Long-abandoned archaeological sites and historic landscapes give us important insights into the ways human activities and the environment have linked together through time, how seemingly minor cultural practices can contribute to substantial environmental change. Discovering, studying and understanding the evidence of past human influences on the land can give BLM and the public critically important background as we plan how we should be using the same land today and in the future.
More kinds of fossils can be found on the BLM-managed public lands than under any other Federal or State agency's control, and all Americans share in this unique natural legacy. Fossils are the remains and traces of once-living organisms, preserved in rocks of the Earth's crust. They convey the story of origins and endings of extraordinary varieties of ocean-dwelling, fresh-water, and terrestrial creatures, played out over nearly 4 billion years of the Earth's 4.6 billion-year history.
To learn more about heritage resources on public lands, click on one of the links in the menu to the right.