Fears Voiced About Threats to Cultural, Natural Resources of Country’s National Conservation Lands

July 1, 2010

Lands Set to Mark their 10th Year in July

DOLORES, Colo., July 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The country’s National Conservation Lands (formally the National Landscape Conservation System) and one of its signature units, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, will celebrate their 10th anniversary this month (July 12). Shown is the “Tucked Away Two-Story House” in the Canyons of the Ancients. The house dates to the 13th century.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100701/DC29747)

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100701/DC29747)

As the Canyons and the other 800 units of America’s National Conservation Lands mark their 10th year, representatives of the nonprofit Conservation Lands Foundation and other conservation groups are raising concerns about the growing threat to the Lands from vandalism, looting, irresponsible recreation, and more.

Native American rock art has been used for target practice or scratched out. Boulders containing petroglyphs have vanished, one just weeks ago within the boundaries of a National Conservation Lands unit in Arizona. Signs at a southern California site warning of the presence of endangered plants and wildlife such as Bighorn sheep have been repainted or removed altogether. Rock shelters and habitation sites are burrowed into, sifted through, and dug out by those searching for artifacts. Looters have disturbed human remains. And at a prospective National Conservation Lands site in Nevada, Joshua Trees older than the U.S. Constitution have been pulled from the ground and their trunk and branches used for firewood.

The Foundation is hopeful that the 10th anniversary will raise awareness of the National Conservation Lands, especially for places like the Canyons which contains the nation’s highest density of archaeological sites, including cliff dwellings, villages, great kivas and rock art sites.

Other units within the National Conservation Lands also offer considerable evidence of ancient cultures and traditions. Sloan Canyon in Nevada has what is called the Sistine Chapel of Native American Rock Art. Researchers at Las Cienegas in Arizona are now uncovering the remains of villages dating back 2,500 years or more. And at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains in southern California, the nexus of prehistoric trails and agave pits for the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indians can be found.

For its part, the Foundation will lead a restoration project at the Canyons on July 12. The event will kick off a Season of Service, during which conservation groups across the country will help restore and conserve individual units within the National Conservation Lands.

The National Conservation Lands are the country’s newest permanent collection of protected public lands and waters managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The lands include some of the nation’s most spectacular scenic, historic, natural, cultural and archaeological sites.

Home to rare plants and animals, dinosaur fossils, prehistoric trackways, and sacred Native American sites, the National Conservation Lands provide a chance to experience the history of the American West.

SOURCE Conservation Lands Foundation

Source: newswire

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