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Mesita Blanca WSAWelcome to Wilderness Wednesday, our weekly posting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

This week we are highlighting the Mesita Blanca Wilderness Study Area (WSA).  This WSA is characterized by rolling grasslands broken by isolated sandstone and basalt mesas.  Vegetation consists of grasslands and piñon-juniper woodlands.  The 500-foot Red Hill Cinder Cone and lava flow creates a dominant landmark within the WSA.  Colorful sandstone cliffs provide for interesting exploring.

WSAs are subject to a four step process: wilderness inventory, wilderness study, suitability recommendation, and Congressional action.  The wilderness inventory determines if the area has wilderness characteristics: a minimum size, having a natural appearance, and having outstanding opportunities for primitive recreation or solitude.  The wilderness study evaluates the quality of those characteristics, and any other potential uses of the land.  The suitability recommendation is made by the President to Congress to designate or not designate the area as wilderness.  Finally, it is Congress that has the authority to permanently protect the area as wilderness or allocate the land to other uses.

There are no marked trails in this WSA.  Visitors can park on the county boundary road and explore on their own.  From Highway 60, drive approximately 20 miles west of Quemado to County Road A7/McKinley Ranch Road.  Highway road signs at the intersection indicate a road to the town of Luna (County Road B7) to the south.  Turn north (right) on County Road A7/McKinley Ranch Road which is immediately opposite of the road to Luna and drive north for approximately 6.5 miles.  From this point, the WSA’s eastern edge will be on your left for approximately 7.5 miles (the road twice passes through private property with ranch houses; please do not trespass on private property).  These are dirt access roads that, when wet, can become impassible.

For more information, please visit the Mesita Blanca WSA website

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Last updated: 08-06-2014