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Nat’l Conservation Landscape Check-Up: Popularity Increases

October 20, 2010

HELENA, Mont. - An overall grade of "C-plus" for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), according to a new report card released today by The Wilderness Society (TWS). The report tracks how the BLM is doing in keeping National Landscape Conservation System holdings healthy and accessible to the public, and those lands include the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana.

TWS Campaign Director Kevin Mack says there's been a marked improvement in availability of information for the public since the first report card issued five years ago, whether those details are on site or online.

"Not only is the information available, but it's actually of fairly high quality, including maps, whether you're planning a visit or just looking to learn more, are an important part of telling the story."

Mack notes National Conservation Lands are also growing in popularity, drawing up to a third of total visitors to all BLM lands.

Mack says it's notable that these lands are volunteer magnets, accounting for 40 percent of volunteerism even though they only make up 10 percent of BLM holdings.

"They want to not only enjoy these lands, but they're also willing to lend a helping hand. That can leverage some of these scarce dollars, but you also need some of those scarce dollars to actually have something to leverage against."

For the "needs improvement" categories: protection for wild and primitive areas, complete inventories of cultural resources, and funding for projects and staff. The Missouri Breaks had more "needs improvement" notes than most of the other areas graded.

The full report, "State of the National Landscape Conservation System: A Second Assessment, 2010," is at http://tws.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT