Category Archives: wildlands

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Inspiration for Black Place?

I am a docent at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and we are currently showing 2 beautiful pieces that she did called “Black Place.” I am told that this place is in Chaco Canyon. Could you tell anything more about it or how I might find it on a hike ?

I found the following, which includes a picture of Black Place II (I haven’t seen either before).

Georgia O’Keeffe: Black Place II (59.204.1) | Object Page | Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The Black Place was the name O’Keeffe gave to one of her favorite painting sites, located in the Bisti Badlands in Navajo country, about 150 miles northwest of her home in Ghost Ranch. It was a stretch of desolate gray and black hills that the artist said looked from a distance like “a mile of elephants.” Isolated far off the road and away from all civilization, O’Keeffe made several camping trips there in the 1940s, with her assistant Maria Chabot. Writing to Stieglitz in 1944, the year Black Place II was made, Chabot described in words what O’Keeffe captured in paint: “… the black hills—black and grey and silver with arroyos of white sand curving around them—pink and white strata running through them. They flow downward, one below the next. Incredible stillness!” (Maria Chabot—Georgia O’Keeffe: Correspondence 1941–1949, 2003, p. 193). Over a period of fourteen years, from 1936 to 1949, her visits to the Black Place sparked a torrent of work that was almost unparalleled in her career. Between 1944 and 1945 alone, she completed six canvases, including Black Place II, one very large pastel, and at least nine pencil sketches.”

I can’t verify the description, but I have been to Bisti-Denazin and recommend you visit the area. I think it would be very hard to pinpoint the exact spot she loved so — perhaps someone at Ghost Ranch has an idea. See for a description of Bisti-Denazin. It makes for a long daytrip from Santa Fe. You wouldn’t want to be there in June-July-August, unless very early in the day.

Here are two sites with photographs of the area — maybe you’ll see something here or perhaps the photographers have seen Black Place.

Denazin Wilderness Photo Images

I hope this helps. mjh

New Mexico Wilderness, a blog

“New Mexico Wilderness” is the name of a blog created by Jim Scarantino. Whereas I am something of an armchair wilderness advocate, creeping into the edges of wilderness a few times a year, Jim is out there in the wild or working for its preservation. His blog is well-written with good photos of wilderness. Jim is often a great writer; I look forward to his book. His blog is worth a visit. (But come back here and don’t expect me to keep up with Jim.)

I will mention one specific but atypical entry of Jim’s: God’s Glory. I appreciate his moving account and his openness both to the Universe and to his readers. I’m am not quarreling when I say I feel much the same thing he does without a trace of god. I’m not saying one of us is right or wrong, just balancing his entry with one that notes that atheists can love life deeply, too. (I’m not suggesting Jim thinks otherwise.) We’ve both found a deep connection to the earth that may be hard to feel through concrete or steel. mjh

Pike-San Isabel National Forest in south-central Colorado – Land Management Plan

The Pike-San Isabel National Forest in south-central Colorado encompasses more than 2.2 million acres from the Continental Divide south almost to the New Mexico border. This extraordinary landscape provides life to thousands of native plants and animals, including bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and antelope, and helps bolster the economy of local communities along Colorado’s southern Front Range.

The Pike-San Isabel National Forest is revising the Land Management Plan for the forest. Won’t you take a moment to remind the Forest Service how important these lands are and why they should be managed to promote healthy ecosystems, maintain opportunities for quiet backcountry recreation, and provide habitat for native species?

USDA Forest Service, Pike & San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron & Comanche National Grasslands – Projects&Plans

Pike and San Isabel National Forests
Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands
Supervisor’s Office
2840 Kachina Dr.
Pueblo, CO 81008
Ph: 719-553-1400, Fax: 719-553-1440

Otero Mesa’s Value Lies in Beauty

ABQjournal: Letters to the Editor
Otero Mesa’s Value Lies in Beauty

I MADE MY first trip to Otero Mesa in September. Otero Mesa is a huge New Mexico resource, but not as an oil and gas field.

Otero Mesa’s value lies in its water, its wildlife and its beauty— all of which are as immense as its 1.2 million pristine acres. I am horrified that this huge area of quintessential New Mexico now faces ruin.

I saw pronghorn antelope, mule deer, a golden eagle, burrowing owls, a great horned owl, harriers, red tailed hawks, kestrel, a gray fox, kangaroo rats, jack rabbits galore, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, nine species of native grasses, myriad yuccas, cacti and more. Otero Mesa is easily one of the most alive places in America.

That Otero Mesa is vast, beautiful and supernaturally alive is without doubt. That there are measurable oil or gas reserves is highly suspect. Can we afford to permanently ruin Otero Mesa? I say no— emphatically no.

All New Mexicans need to rally around this unique, imperiled asset. Otero Mesa has huge income potential for southern New Mexico as a future national park. Shortsighted, meaningless destruction of this land by greedy oil companies could very well be the biggest environmental mistake we’ve ever made as a state and as a country.


Bureau of Land Management Arizona – Wilderness Areas

Bureau of Land Management Arizona – Wilderness Areas

The Bureau of Land Management in Arizona is responsible for 47 wilderness areas totalling about 1.4 million acres. Congress established these areas through the Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984 and the Arizona Desert Wilderness Act of 1990. The list [on the linked page], organized by Field Office that manages the areas, provides links to more information. Published Management Plans are available for many areas. You may also be interested in our Environmental/NEPA Documents Library.

LEAVE NO TRACE: Wilderness visitors need to be aware of their impact on the land and know how to reduce it. Education is a key to preserving the ecological health of our wildlands. Education is more effective than regulation in changing people’s behavior. The following Leave No Trace principles are recommended as a guide to minimizing the impact of your wilderness visits.

Principles of Leave No Trace

* Plan Ahead and Prepare
* Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
* Dispose of Waste Properly
* Leave What You Find
* Minimize Campfire Impacts
* Respect Wildlife
* Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Minimize your impact on the land and on other visitors, but be sure to enjoy your visit as well. For more information, visit the Leave No Trace home page.

SAFETY: As with other types of outdoor activities, wilderness travel poses potential hazards. You may encounter flashfloods, poisonous snakes and insects, poisonous plants, or lightning storms. Be aware of your exposure to heat or cold. Don’t panic if you get lost. Carry an ample supply of water with you since many areas may not have adequate or uncontaminated water sources.

List of U.S. National Forests: Information From

List of U.S. National Forests: Information From

[On the linked page] is a list of all the National Forests and National Grasslands in the United States. If looking at national forests on a map, be aware that, in general, those west of the Great Plains show the true extent of their area, while those east of the Great Plains generally only show purchase districts, within which usually only a minority of the land has been made national forest.

Everything is listed twice; first by state, then alphabetically.

Kill Proposal, Not Wildlife

ABQjournal: Kill Proposal, Not Wildlife By David Parsons And Stephen Capra, Conservation Advocates

Imagine lying in a pristine mountain meadow in your favorite wilderness area enjoying the peace and tranquility of wild nature when a helicopter swoops low, and a gunner hanging out of the open door blasts a coyote. Far fetched? Not if this proposed rule is adopted!

[The recently proposed U.S. Forest Service rule that would allow for the expanded trapping, poisoning and aerial gunning of bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, mountain lions, wolves and other animals in federally designated wilderness areas and research natural areas. The plan, open to public comment through Sept. 5, is morally perverse and biologically unsound.]

Decision authority for killing predators and the use of motorized equipment in wilderness areas would be delegated to ill-defined local collaborative groups. …

The authority for making such decisions is properly placed at the Regional Forester level to minimize such exceptions. Such decisions should not be delegated to some local group that could be stacked in favor of interests that are opposed to wilderness and nature protection. …

The proposed policy changes are philosophically and legally incompatible with the purposes of the Wilderness Act to preserve and protect lands in the National Wilderness Preservation System in their “natural condition.” …

We are astonished that the U.S. Forest Service considers this proposal to be appropriate and consistent with the purposes of the Wilderness Act.

This proposal is not supported by science; rather, it appears to be politically driven and designed to appease and benefit select interests. This is not in the best interest of our National Forests or the American people who love and respect wild lands and wild nature.