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About the BLM New Mexico Cultural Resources Program

Help Preserve Our Past: Stop Looting of Archaeological Resources Brochure

Petroglyphs at Three RiversBLM identifies and manages a wide variety of cultural resources on New Mexico’s public lands. The BLM conserves and protects scientific archaeological sites which chronicle 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.

In addition, the BLM actively promotes the use of cultural resources for scientific study, classroom education as well as heritage tourism. Cultural resources are used for museum exhibits, travelling displays, classroom teaching kits, and graduate study programs and field schools. Recreational users also enjoy the benefits of public land cultural resources.

With over 30,000 sites recorded on just the ten percent of BLM lands in New Mexico that have been inventoried, BLM New Mexico manages the agency’s largest cultural program. BLM New Mexico features internationally recognized World Heritage List Chacoan Outliers, the dramatic architecture of 18th century Navajo refugee sites, dry caves and rock shelters containing remarkably well-preserved materials thousands of years old, huge lithic and ceramic scatters that can extend for over a mile in diameter, 2,000-room pueblos that dwarf Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, outstanding rock art, and many others.

The BLM also places a strong emphasis on government to government relations with all the American Indian tribes in the four-state area. Many Tribes and tribal members do business with BLM. By law, BLM also has a trust responsibility to the tribes in the management of some natural resources. The BLM also works closely with tribes to conserve and protect cultural and natural resources on public

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.

Cultural Resources Program Information

Cultural Program Objectives