Top 15 places to stargaze in California’s BLM lands

June 16, 2015

I’m stealing this wholesale from the Tumblr site of the U.S. Department of Interior, America’s Great Outdoors.

The site features great Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites often, and this week will highlight places on BLM lands in California that are great for stargazing.  They call it a “social media takeover” of the feed by California BLM.

How good is the star watching? Look at these photographs.  (I’ve added a few comments of my own.)

Piper Mountains Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Piper Mountains Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Another great place to see the Milky Way.

King Range National Conservation Area, California, by Bob Wick

King Range National Conservation Area, California, by Bob Wick

These photos are stunning. These .gifs also demonstrate how the atmosphere really is a fluid, flowing over mountains — “the curvaceous hills of California,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called them in a travelogue he delivered from the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.  Teachers, not just great geography illustrations, but also illustrations for environmental science and physics.

Amargosa Wild and Scenic River, California, by Bob Wick

Amargosa Wild and Scenic River, California, by Bob Wick

 

San Gorgonio Wilderness, California, by Dan Maus

San Gorgonio Wilderness, California, by Dan Maus

 

Slinkard Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Slinkard Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Slinkard Wilderness? I admit I do not know of some of these places.  I’m willing to learn, first hand . . .

Kingston Range Wilderness, BLM California, by Bob Wick, BLM

Kingston Range Wilderness, BLM California, by Bob Wick, BLM

 

California Coastal National Monument, California, by Bob Wick

California Coastal National Monument, California, by Bob Wick

California Coastal National Monument reminds me that Republicans in Congress push a proposal to prevent future presidents from protecting such lands with National Monument designation under the Antiquities Act. Critics say these BLM lands are not special enough to merit protection.

Do the photos say otherwise?

North Maricopa Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

North Maricopa Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

 

Cadiz Dunes Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Cadiz Dunes Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

 

Point Arena-Stornetta in California Coastal National Monument, California, by Bob Wick

Point Arena-Stornetta in California Coastal National Monument, California, by Bob Wick

 

A printer-friendly, and search engine-friendly list of the sites above, if you’re putting them into your GPS or search feature to plan your vacation:

mypubliclands:

June #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover: Top 15 Places to Stargaze on the #mypubliclandsroadtrip in BLM California

1. Amargosa Wild and Scenic River
2. Cadiz Dunes Wilderness
3. California Coastal National Monument
4. Carrizo Plain National Monument
5. Fort Ord National Monument
6. Kingston Range Wilderness
7. Little Black Sands Beach in King Range National Conservation Area
8. Lost Coast Trail at King Range National Conservation Area
9. North Maricopa Wilderness
10. Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area
11. Piper Mountains Wilderness
12. Point Arena-Stornetta in California Coastal National Monument
13. San Gorgonio Wilderness
14. Slinkard Wilderness
15. Whipple Mountains Wilderness

Thanks for following the June #conservationlands15 features on My Public Lands Tumblr, and our takeover of americasgreatoutdoors Instagram account (https://instagram.com/usinterior/). Stay tuned all week as the #mypubliclandsroadtrip visits these top 15 California spots for stargazing and much more.

Bob Wick and Dan Maus may have the best jobs in U.S. government service, judging by their photos.  Nice of them to share.

What do your shots from those places look like?  Show us in comments, maybe?


Milky Way from a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park

June 3, 2015

Ready to go camping this summer?

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Starry sky from near Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Bryce Bradford

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Starry sky from near Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Bryce Bradford

Bryce Bradford captured the Milky Way from Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park.

More:


Public lands: St. Anthony Sand Dunes, Idaho

May 28, 2015

St. Anthony Sand Dunes, Idaho -- a part of the undifferentiated lands of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of Interior. #Sunset photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management - Idaho.

St. Anthony Sand Dunes, Idaho — a part of the undifferentiated lands of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of Interior. #Sunset photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management – Idaho.

From the Department of Interior Facebook page:

Located far from any ocean, the St. Anthony Sand Dunes appears as a rolling sea of sand on the eastern edge of Idaho’s volcanic Snake River Plain. These vast dunes are the largest in Idaho. They blanket an area approximately 35 miles long and 5 wide, and range from 50 to 500 feet high. These white quartz sand dunes are a unique and popular recreational area for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, hikers and equestrians. The best time to visit is spring through fall; summer temperatures cause sands to reach over 100 degrees. #Sunset photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management – Idaho.

One more stellar example of the great resources held by U.S. citizens for the future, for preservation — and for recreation and awe.

James and Michelle sent photos from their recent foray to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. Kathryn, Kenny, James and I camped at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah some years back, at the new Moon, the better to be wholly awestruck at the stars at night.

Michelle and James on top of a dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Michelle and James on top of a dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, 2015

Then there are the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Some dunes in Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park.  I can show you smaller collections of dunes on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.

Where else in America do we have marvelous dunes like these?  (I’ve missed some, I’m sure — tell me in comments.) When you start thinking about it, it’s a lot!

Each site well worth the time and trouble to get there.

Take your camera, and your memory-making machine.


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.


Saguaro cactus and the Milky Way

March 12, 2015

Somewhere in Arizona?

Saguaro cactus and the Milky Way; photo by Bob Wick, U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Via Wilderness Society on Twitter, and flickr.

Saguaro cactus and the Milky Way; photo by Bob Wick, U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Via Wilderness Society on Twitter, and flickr.

The Wilderness Society added a quote:

“I wish to know an entire heaven and an entire earth.” – Henry David Thoreau

If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere between Phoenix and Tucson, but I don’t know.  Mr. Wick managed to get a good exposure without distorting the shapes of the stars.  Somewhere far away from city lights.

Anyone have more details? Gotta track down the quote, too.

More:


Happy New Year from Yellowstone NP

January 27, 2015

(Yeah, I’m behind. Tell me news.)

New Year’s felicitations from Yellowstone National Park.

The Yellowstone in winter is best, the old timers tell me.  I agree.

Details:

Published on Jan 1, 2015

Winter landscapes in Yellowstone inspire artist and NPS employee Lynn Bickerton Chan. Produced by NPS/Neal Herbert.  600


Flights arriving, Klamath NWR

January 23, 2015

Flights Arriving Daily! Birds are funneling into Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex Photo: A Mize/USFWS; from @USFWSPacSWest

Flights Arriving Daily! Birds are funneling into Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex Photo: A Mize/USFWS; from @USFWSPacSWest

Photo from last fall. Some of the ducks probably overwinter.  Others continued south, and will be arriving at Klamath NWR soon, again, heading north.

Our public lands at work.

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