Something for everyone: The National Conservation Lands Program

Story by Jaime Tompkins, Program Lead for National Conservation Lands, Montana/Dakotas State Office

Red soil and red rock formations at Burnt Timber Wilderness Study Area
Burnt Timber WSA is located in southern
Montana and managed by the Billings FO.
Photo by Jaime Tompkins.

The BLM Montana-Dakotas National Conservation Lands Program encompasses two National Monuments with Interpretive Centers, 150 miles of designated Wild & Scenic River, and portions of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. In addition, there are 37 Wilderness Study Areas and BLM’s first designated Wilderness, the Bear Trap Canyon -- part of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness!

gnarled tree dusted in snow
The Pryor Mountain WSA
encompasses more than 12,000
acres in Montana and 4,000
acres in Wyoming.
Photo by Jaime Tompkins

These areas provide abundant recreational opportunities, important scientific research grounds, and outstanding ecological and cultural resources. National Conservation Lands also work as a unifying and essential link for critical habitat, animal migrations, and public access across the West--pathways that are crucial to the nation’s efforts to conserve our critical natural resources. While many of the National Conservation Lands are remote, others are easily accessible and part of an active, vibrant landscape near communities where people live, work, and recreate.

walking path between tall trees
The Continental Divide National
Scenic Trail runs through the
Centennial Mountains WSA in
southwestern Montana.
BLM photo

The National Monument interpretive centers host public events throughout the summer months that are free to the public. Information on upcoming events can be found at Montana-Dakotas | Bureau of Land Management (

To learn more about the history of the National Conservation Program Lands, check out the online training on the ProValens website at Some of the training modules offered there include National Scenic & Historic Trails, Wild & Scenic Rivers, National Monuments and Conservation Areas and Wilderness Management. The Carhart Center in Missoula, Montana is another great source for other online training opportunities and resources

A path along the river. Low cards cover the mountains in the distance.
The 6,347-acre Bear Trap Wilderness is
the first wilderness area to be managed
by the BLM. BLM photos