BLM California Virtual Visitor: New Mexico

Introduction and highlights of BLM in other states

Welcome to the third installment of this News.Bytes feature, created to mark the 60th anniversary of BLM's creation as a national agency. In California, there are 15.2 million acres of BLM public lands for you to use, share, and appreciate. Nationwide, BLM is responsible for 258 million acres, mostly in the 12 western States, including Alaska, and for 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate. Over the next few months, we will feature another BLM state (or in some cases, a group of states), providing you with a sampling of a particular office's specialties and areas of concentration, and links to more information.

looking up at cliffs in the El Malpais National Conservation AreaBLM manages 13.4 million surface acres in New Mexico and 11,800 surface acres in Texas, plus all federal mineral estate in the two states, plus Kansas and Oklahoma. With Field Offices in Albuquerque, Taos, Las Cruces, Socorro, Roswell, Carlsbad, Farmington, New Mexico; Tulsa and Moore Oklahoma; and Amarillo, Texas, BLM New Mexico provides a broad range of programs and services. For contact information, see the BLM New Mexico directory.

Highlights of exploring with BLM New Mexico:

an explorer points to the high ceilikng of a recently-discovered room in the along the Snowy River PassageSnowy River passage is the biggest new American cave discovery in decades. Explorers have found miles of new cave within the Fort Stanton Cave in central New Mexico. A group of dedicated volunteer cave explorers working in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management had been searching for a new cave passage in this old historic cave. Among the discoveries, as reported to the U.S. Senate: 16 organisms that may not exist anywhere else in the world, and appear to survive by eating rock. The cave system is closed while details of how to protect it are worked out. See more in the photo gallery.

Recreation: New Mexico BLM showcases high desert treasures and backcountry adventures for all outdoor travelers. Visitor centers offer learning opportunities through BLM educational programs. In the New Mexico outback, visitors can experience a closeness to nature, and find enough excitement to satisfy any outdoor enthusiast.

Roam other BLM New Mexico recreation sites, from their Outdoor Recreation page. Click on the map of New Mexico or the text links on the page, to visit various parts of the state. Follow links from these pages to "visit" their recreation areas - many with photo galleries...

looking up at cliffs in the El Malpais National Conservation Area...such as El Malpais National Conservation Area: El Malpais translates to "the badlands" in Spanish and is pronounced Mal-(rhymes with wall)-pie-ees. El Malpais NCA was established to protect nationally significant geological, archaeological, ecological, cultural, scenic, scientific, and wilderness resources surrounding the Grants Lava Flows. Activities there include picnicking, camping, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and more.

an overlook at the Black River Recreation Area Black River Recreation Area: The 1,200-acre Black River Recreation Area is managed to provide low-impact recreation and environmental education opportunities while maintaining a healthy river system and riparian habitat. This river corridor acts as a transition zone between the limestone foothills of the Guadalupe Escarpment and the southern gypsum soils to the east. Several spring-fed pools within the area comprise the headwaters of the Black River. The area includes a series of deep, elongated pools interconnected by a shallow, narrow stream.

a scenic vista across a rocky canyon to a wind-carved rock formation in the Angel Peak Scenic AreaAngel Peak Scenic Area, located about 30 miles southeast of Farmington, offers more than 10,000 acres of rugged terrain recognized for its scenic and scientific wonders. The nearly 7,000-foot Angel Peak, a landmark composed of river deposited sandstone from the San Jose Formation, is visible for miles in any direction. However, the banded colors of the badlands and the deep sculpted fingers of the canyon at the base of Angel Peak are only fully revealed to those who make the short journey along the rim.

More wilderness areas: Capping 15 years of intensive effort by BLM and the general public, the Secretary of Interior transmitted BLM’s New Mexico Wilderness recommendations to the President on October 18, 1991. The 23 areas recommended for designation stretch from the beautiful pine covered cliffs and mesas of northern New Mexico’s Rio Chama to the striking spires and pinnacles of the Organ Mountains in southern New Mexico. BLM New Mexico currently manages four designated wilderness areas totaling 156,708 acres of public land.

An uphill view in the Ojito WildernessOjito Wilderness: Historically, several human cultures have tried to carve a living from Ojito’s rugged terrain, rocky soils and scarce water supply. Although several types of ruins exist within the area, including those of the Anasazi, Navajo, and Hispanic cultures, very few historical records exist concerning their lives here. Fossil remains of rare dinosaurs, plants and trees have been discovered in the Ojito Wilderness. They are found in the 150 million-year-old Jurassic Age Morrison Formation.

Minerals: BLM's New Mexico State Office manages a four-state area (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas) that contains over 47 million acres of federal mineral estate and over 2 million acres of American Indian mineral estate. New Mexico received $573 million as its share of federal mineral revenues in Fiscal Year 2006, according to the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service. The total represents a 29 percent increase over last year’s $444 million in federal mineral revenues.

close-up of a sample of New Mexico rock art

Cultural Resources and American Indian Relationships: BLM identifies and manages a wide of variety of cultural resources on New Mexico’s public lands. The BLM conserves and protects scientific archaeological sites which chronicle the thousands of years of land use history in New Mexico. BLM strives to protect and preserve representative samples of the array of cultural resources on public lands for the benefit of present and future generations.

The BLM both protects and promotes the enjoyment of New Mexico’s cultural resources on public land. The BLM protects sites through a compliance program that ensures that all potential federal actions are analyzed to determine the potential impact on cultural resources. This activity generally includes cultural surveys and programs of data recovery.

A BLM New Mexico wildland firefighter surveys a burning areaBLM's Fire and Aviation Program provides wildfire protection and prescribed fire management for New Mexico’s public lands, working with other federal and state agencies. Safe and effective fire and aviation operations are the highest priority.
In New Mexico, the BLM uses prescribed fires to improve the health of rangelands and wildlife habitat, and improve watershed conditions by reducing long-term erosion. Prescribed fires are fires ignited by BLM firefighters, or fires started naturally that are allowed to continue burning under safe conditions. Fire is essential to the vigor of much of New Mexico’s public lands, as it is throughout much of the Western landscape. Science shows how long ago natural fire maintained diverse plant communities, digested and recycled nutrients, and kept landscapes healthy, stable and resilient. BLM is looking to safely return fire to its natural role in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Cadastral Survey: In addition to conducting surveys to meet BLM land management needs, the BLM’s New Mexico State Office completes Cadastral Surveys for Indian Tribes, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and other federal agencies in the four-state region. Along with the growing demands placed on public lands, complex landownership patterns make the importance of accurate boundaries more important today than ever before. Clearly defined boundaries provide public land managers and the American people with essential information needed to identify rights and privileges and make the best land decisions. BLM’s Cadastral Survey helps identify critical environmental management areas, legally describe lands for leasing or conveyance purposes, and private rights.

A wooden ladder pokes out of an old mine shaft: Stay out! Stay Alive!Abandoned Mine Lands Program: New Mexico has some of the oldest mining areas in the United States. Native Americans mined turquoise more than 500 years before the arrival of the Spanish in the early 1600’s. American miners came to New Mexico seeking gold in 1828, more than two decades before the California and Nevada gold rushes.

Learn about other BLM New Mexico programs on the What We Do page. For instance:

BLM’s Rangeland Management Program focuses on improving livestock grazing practices to promote healthy ecosystems. Today’s BLM is working to improve the ecological condition of New Mexico’s public lands. BLM is managing rangeland use to prevent and control the spread of invasive plant species, maintain diverse natural plant communities, improve wildlife habitat, reduce erosion, and improve water quality. BLM is also working to maintain or restore riparian areas in proper functioning condition.

Paleontological Resources: New Mexico has a fossil record that includes almost all of the geologic periods. Many of New Mexico’s fossil deposits are internationally significant, and nearly 1,000 different kinds of fossils were first found in New Mexico. These fossils play an important role in the study of past life and its environment. They contribute significantly to our scientific knowledge and provide an outstanding opportunity to educate the public.

Wildlife: BLM New Mexico manages the public lands to provide suitable habitat for fish, wildlife, and special status species of plants and animals. New Mexico also boasts a broad diversity of wildlife with 479 bird species and 147 mammal species verified or reliably recorded in the state. Reptiles (91 species), fish (69 species), and amphibians (25 species) also abound along with thousands of species of invertebrates, including mollusks and crustaceans.

Wild Horse and Burro Program: To locate good homes for the animals, BLM New Mexico/Oklahoma sponsors adoptions throughout a four-state area (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas). Through this program, a horse or burro in the Nevada desert may find itself grazing in a pasture in Texas or trail riding in Oklahoma. The horses and burros are in need of good homes to prevent overgrazing of the land and starvation of the animals. In addition animals play a vital role in the lives of the adopters. See the 2007 wild horse and burro adoption schedule for New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

Noxious Weeds: The spread of noxious weeds is on the rise, and New Mexico is beginning to see increases in occurrences of some of these noxious invaders. BLM is working in cooperation with federal and state agencies, county governments, and private landowners to identify and control these invasive plants before they degrade ecosystems and damage land productivity. Through inventories and weed prevention practices, BLM is helping to eliminate noxious weeds in New Mexico.

You can also search for recreation opportunities in New Mexico, or view maps highlighting recreation areas, at the Public Lands Information Center for New Mexico.

BLM California News.bytes, issue 266