[Public Land Statistics, 1996]
[Part 5 - PRESERVATION OF SIGNIFICANT CULTURAL AND NATURAL FEATURES]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Part 5--PRESERVATION OF SIGNIFICANT CULTURAL AND NATURAL FEATURES

The Federal government is responsible for preserving and protecting threatened and endangered species; wild free-roaming horses and burros; significant archaeological, paleontological, and historical sites; areas of critical environmental concern and other outstanding natural areas; and wilderness or wilderness study areas.

BLM strives to improve efficiency by consolidating lands into manageable areas through land exchanges (Table 5-1). These land transactions also improve the management of natural resources by protecting endangered species, promoting biological diversity, increasing recreational opportunities, and preserving archaeological and historical sites.

Bureau-administered permanent or seasonal habitats on public lands are home for over 3,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians. Priority treatment is given to federally listed threatened or endangered plant and animal species (Tables 5-2 and 5-3) that depend on the public lands for all or part of their habitat needs.

The Bureau administers the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Public Law 92-195, as amended). This Act provides for the protection, management, and control of wild horses and burros on the public lands. A major responsibility under the Act is to preserve a thriving natural ecological balance on the range. To do so, it is necessary to remove excess wild horses and burros, which are then offered for adoption. Tables 5-4 and 5-5 portray wild horse and burro populations and adoptions.

The Bureau of Land Management is steward for the Federal government's largest, most culturally diverse, and scientifically most varied and important body of cultural resources. To carry out this stewardship responsibility, the Bureau's cultural resource management program is set up to inventory, evaluate, plan for, and manage cultural and paleontological resources on public lands under its jurisdiction.

The major objectives of the cultural resource management program are to manage archaeological and historical resources for the widest range of public uses, including recreational, educational, scientific, socio-cultural, and aesthetic benefits. In addition, these resources contribute to enhancing local economies and expanding job opportunities, particularly in rural areas. Cultural resources, specifically the data from archaeological, historical, and paleo-environmental studies, can also enhance ecosystem management by providing the time-depth perspective that scientists and land managers need to make wise decisions on maintaining or restoring ecosystem health. BLM has inventoried over 12 million acres for cultural resources and has recorded over 200,000 properties (Table 5-6).

The Bureau provides special management for 25 million acres of lands designated as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, Research Natural Areas, National Conservation Areas, and National Natural Landmarks (Table 5-7). The Bureau also manages over 5.2 million acres of designated wilderness lands and 622 wilderness study areas encompassing 17.4 million acres (Tables 5-8, 5-9, and 5-10).