Start of National Conservation Lands

In 1993, Bruce Babbitt starting thinking about legacy.

But not his legacy, the legacy of BLM (read his own words). It’s an agency known by monikers like Bureau of Livestock & Mines even though BLM manages some of the most spectacular Wilderness (Hello The Wave!), recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat in the American West. So in 2000, he set up a whole new system of conservation lands within BLM, what we know as National Conservation Lands. This system brought together all of BLM’s conservation lands under one management system. In 2009, we gained National Conservation Lands here in Washington County – A lot of them actually (see map)!

Our Piece of the System

Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness in Red Cliffs NCA

Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness in Red Cliffs NCA

You only have to look north of town to see one of these pieces – Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

These lands aren’t National Parks with visitor centers and wi-fi in the campground. These lands are the American West – raw, rustic, and full of discovery. Don’t get me wrong, Yosemite is one my favorite places on earth and I go to Zion at least once a month. But there’s something indescribably unique and special about going out in Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area. It’s a quiet and unguided exploration of the land. And rich with history and signs of previous cultures, something that isn’t as common in National Parks.

Citizens for Dixie’s Future felt that it was vitally important to not just advocate for designation of these lands in Washington County, but to continue supporting them afterwards. In 2012, CDF started a “friends” group program called SUNCLF (Southwest Utah National Conservation Lands Friends). We work to connect people to these places through outreach and education as well as volunteer projects.

For ideas on how you can explore our National Conservation Lands check out the trail list on the BLM page. Or you can look at the hiking guide on the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve page. Much of the reserve overlaps the NCA.