The Bureau of Land Management announced on Monday it is buying a key piece of private land in the midst of southwest Colorado’s Canyon of the Ancients National Monument believed to hold hundreds of undocumented prehistoric sites.
The purchase is of one of seven deals to buy 5,026 acres of private inholdings of conservation land within or next to public land in Colorado, Montana and Nevada.
The $11.7 million purchases were authorized by a 2000 federal law that created a special land conservation fund to buy private inholdings throughout the West. That law is set to expire next year.
“These land purchases are a very worthwhile and much needed investment,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “The properties being brought into public ownership are remarkable for their extraordinary natural, scenic, recreational, cultural, and historical value.”
The Bureau of Land Management would acquire the 4,573-acre Wallace property within the Canyon of the Ancients. That land contains 25 documented sites of cultural importance, including a 1,000-year-old solstice marker, and may contain more than 700 still-undocumented sites.
“The Wallace property was one of the most important cultural properties in the United States not in federal ownership,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We salute Secretary Salazar, the Bureau of Land Management and the Conservation Fund, for their outstanding work to acquire this property and bestow a great gift on the American people.”
The BLM would also acquire 37 acres within Montana’s Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail corridor and two parcels totaling 7 acres within Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
The Fish and Wildlife Service would acquire 280 acres within Montana’s Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
The Forest Service would purchase two Nevada properties totaling 123 acres. One in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, just east of the Tahoe Basin, includes a portion of Pony Express National Historic Trail. A 5-acre site within Spring Mountains National Recreation Area sits next to the Mount Stirling Wilderness Study Area.
Since 2007, officials have approved more than $66.8 million under the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act for land acquisition to buy 28 parcels totaling 16,700 acres. The Obama administration is asking Congress to continue the act.