Milky Way and the Snake River Canyon

December 10, 2016

Near where I first saw the Milky Way, on my Snake River.

#DYK 800 pairs of #hawks, #owls, #eagles & #falcons come each spring to mate & raise young in Snake River canyon. http://bit.ly/2d4Zz6O

BLM Idaho on Twitter: #DYK 800 pairs of #hawks, #owls, #eagles & #falcons come each spring to mate & raise young in Snake River canyon. http://bit.ly/2d4Zz6O

The photo is by Bob Wick, the great public lands photographer whose work highlights BLM and other public lands sights.

On Instagram there is more information:

mypubliclandsHappy Friday from BLM Idaho! On day five of our @mypubliclands Instagram takeover we are soaring over to Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.

The deep canyon of the Snake River, with its crags and crevices and thermal updrafts, is home to the greatest concentration of nesting birds of prey in North America – and perhaps, the world. The BLM’s mission here is to preserve this remarkable wildlife habitat, while providing for other compatible uses of the land. Some 800 pairs of hawks, owls, eagles and falcons come each spring to mate and raise their young. The area truly exemplifies “nature in the rough,” with few public facilities. However, the birds and their unique environment offer rich rewards to those willing to experience this special place on its own terms and who have patience to fit into the natural rhythms of life here. Photo: Bob Wick

Get outside this year and visit BLM.gov to #GetAFreshLook of your public lands! Follow BLM Idaho on Facebook and Twitter @BLMIdaho.

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Petrified trees at De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area, New Mexico

October 7, 2015

Click for a larger view -- see the petrified trees, darker brown and lying horizontal? American Southwest posted this on Facebook.

Click for a larger view — see the petrified trees, darker brown and lying horizontal? American Southwest posted this on Facebook, “Two petrified trees at the edge of a plateau on the north side of De-Na-Zin Wash.”

This is BLM land, but real wilderness — no trails. More examples of what makes America great, and worth defending.

It seems to be a great place for stargazing, too.


Homestead Act of 1862: Socialist land giveaway that appealed to free-market Americans, then and now

May 21, 2015

We passed an important anniversary in American history this week.  I’m not sure anyone noted it.

I am constantly amazed at how much of our history gets ignored in conservative politics, especially with regard to the role the government played in stimulating development of the nation with subsidies and give-aways.  What would America be without the Homestead Act?

A family off to find and settle their homestead, 1886. Photo from the National Archives

A family off to find and settle their homestead, 1886. Photo from the National Archives

History and demographics of the United States were forever changed when the Homestead Act became law early in the administration of President Abraham Lincoln, on May 20, 1862.

With Congress paralyzed and unable to act to do even minor good things now, it’s astonishing to think how the Congress of 1862 could do so much to open the American west, in the middle of the American Civil War.  Perhaps Congress was able to act because legislators from the South were absent, and did not oppose progress.

In any case, the Homestead Act encouraged Americans who lacked property, or who wanted to go west, to strike out for the western territories and states, to make a new life, to found new towns, cities and farms, and fulfill the nation’s “manifest destiny.”

The bill that became the Homestead Act, H.R. 125, in the 37th Congress, 1862. Image from the U.S. National Archives

The bill that became the Homestead Act, H.R. 125, in the 37th Congress, 1862. Image from the U.S. National Archives

Here’s the history from the National Archives:

The notion that the United States government should give free land titles to settlers to encourage westward expansion became popular in the 1850s. During that time the U.S. House of Representatives passed numerous homestead bills but southern opposition in the Senate prevented enactment. In 1860, during the 36th Congress, the Senate narrowly passed a homestead act but President James Buchanan vetoed it and the Senate failed its override attempt.

When the 37th Congress convened for its brief summer session in 1861, now without members from seceded states, it was preoccupied with Civil War-related legislation. The House took up briefly the homestead issue in December but postponed further consideration of it until the following February. The House finally passed the Homestead Act on February 28, 1862 by the large margin of 107 to 16. The act worked its way through the Senate until May 6, 1862 when it passed easily by a vote of 33 to 7. After a few minor changes in conference committee—which both houses agreed to without controversy—Congress sent the final legislation to President Abraham Lincoln who signed the act into law on May 20, 1862.

The Homestead Act encouraged western migration by providing settlers with 160 acres of land in exchange for a nominal filing fee. Among its provisions was a five-year requirement of continuous residence before receiving the title to the land and the settlers had to be, or in the process of becoming, U.S. citizens. Through 1986, when the last claim was made in Alaska, the Homestead Act distributed 270 million acres of land in the United States making it arguably one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation in American history.

More:

Much of this post has appeared at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub before; the Homestead Act deserves commemoration.


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