A look at the National Landscape Conservation System

The nearby Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is a “flagship” concern for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. However, the trust named the entire National Landscape Conservation System, which includes the monument, to its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.

The NLCS encompasses 26 million acres in 12 western states. In Colorado, it includes: Canyons of the Ancients; McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area (formerly Colorado Canyons NCA); Gunnison Gorge NCA; the

Continental Divide and Old Spanish National Historic Trails; four designated wilderness areas; and more than 600,000 acres of wilderness study areas.

Many NLCS units were created to protect contiguous landscapes. In the case of Canyons of the Ancients, there are thousands of archaeological structures and sites that are interrelated in a large community.

“Important archaeological sites in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, including ancient and historic-period sites, provide a window to our past and a con

nection to the cultural heritage of Colorado and the American Southwest,” said Mark Varien, Research Director at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. “However, we are concerned that lack of funding will jeopardize the important work that is being done at the Monument.”

In total, the NLCS includes: 15 national monuments; 14 national conservation areas; 36 wild and scenic rivers; 148 wilderness areas; 4,264 miles of national and scenic trails; and more than 600 wilderness study areas.

– Will Sands