My Public Lands

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    Science MATTers: Inventorying the BLM’s National Historic Trails

    As part of its National Conservation Lands, the BLM manages over 5000 miles of congressionally designated National Historic Trails. Yet the management of these trails can be a bit tricky, as we are not always sure where the trails are located (the trail markings, like wagon ruts, often disappear over time, or the original travelers left no trace of their passage), and we haven’t had the resources to systematically identify the National Trail resources, qualities, and values or associated settings (viewsheds, cultural resources, trail settings, etc.). Rather, management efforts often have focused on high priority, known trail resources, and efforts to verify the location of a trail and inventory trail resources is often completed in response to project proposals.

    However, thanks to a project supported by American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding, we have conducted in-depth  and systematic inventories of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail in 6 states, including California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado;  the emigrant trails in BLM Wyoming and Utah; and the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail in New Mexico. These inventories provide valuable baseline information and help us identify our priority management and protection needs.

    American Archaeology recently published an article that we thought you might want to read to learn more about this cutting-edge project. Click here to read the article.

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