Saturday, April 12, 2014

Frog in the Water

The recent events surrounding the Bundy Ranch in Southern Nevada and the Gold Butte region has brought the spotlight of federal lands management to a more far reaching national audience. For those of us who have lived in the Western United States dealing with the federal management of our backyards is a part of life. What the “Stand with the Bundy’s” incident has done is bring attention to a greater movement by the federal government to tighten control over these public lands to enforce a narrow vision of public lands management. 

We have all heard the anecdote of the frog in the water. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out. However, if you put a frog in a pot full of room temperature water, and then turn the heat a little at a time, the frog will stay in the pot and eventually boil.

The recent exploits by the BLM were a blatant miscalculation on their part because they turned the heat up too high, too quick. The response by a large segment of people was to jump out of the pot and protest against the actions of the Bureau of Land Managing. Though my personal opinions about the Bundy cattle and their right to range are mixed, my feelings about how the operation was managed and executed are clear; it was a complete debacle and a true exercise of government overreach applied by the BLM.

Though a battle may have been won today, there is certainly still a war going on against our public lands. It is from here forward where we will be able to see if there will be long lasting positive effects from the efforts of many actively involved citizens.

For all those who showed up in protest, for all those who shared the news and story of the Bundy’s, for all those who were so vocal in various forms of social media the question now is, what will you do from here on out? Will you stay involved in the public lands issues and fight back against the slow rise in temperature of our public lands management?

Our founding fathers in effort to ratify our constitution wrote, “What is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” – Federalist Paper 51

The true preservation of liberty, against dangerous encroachments, will be when we all stay actively involved and take part in the governing process. We preserve our liberty when we make our voice known. The voice of justice is defeated when we stand idly by while the heat is turned up. “Ambition must be made to counter act ambition.” -- Federalist Paper 51

My hope and prayer is that the next time the heat is turned up, whether that be a drastic overreach of power like the confrontation we saw this week, or a more mellow dramatic display like a new designation further restricting our access to public lands, that we will all react and make our voice known in this republic in which we so proudly love and defend.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Ordering Followers

Behind every person following orders is someone ordering followers.

It is time that the head the Bureau of Land Management resign over the current mismanagement of of the issue is North Eastern Clark County.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Governor Sandoval

I had the opportunity to meet with and discuss public lands issues with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval today. We had a productive meeting and were able to discuss the importance of access to our public lands and the administration of those lands here in Nevada.

I appreciate the Governor taking the time to meet with us about these issues.


“Due to the roundup by the BLM, my office has received numerous complaints of BLM misconduct, road closures and other disturbances. I have recently met with state legislators, county officials and concerned citizens to listen to their concerns. I have expressed those concerns directly to the BLM.”
“Most disturbing to me is the BLM’s establishment of a ‘First Amendment Area’ that tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution. To that end, I have advised the BLM that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the ‘First Amendment Area’ should be dismantled immediately. No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans. The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.”

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Two Wrongs...

Dear Imperialist Swine,

Two wrongs have never made a right...

Over 250 federal personnel directly involved, over 1,800 signs posted (ALL of which has been destroyed), millions in contracts and more in man hours. To pretend that this is about a few cows is a stretch. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014


When the dark clouds start rolling in over the tops of the mountains in desert country, it means it’s time to get out of the house. The smell of wet chaparral, and the filtered sunlight gleaming against the deep green leaves, is truly too irresistible to experience through the double paned windows.

Just such a day rolled into our low desert country and the call was too strong for the boys and I to sit back and enjoy from within the confines of our home. From the front window of our house the Virgin Range was enshrouded in clouds so thick that the deep blue that normally radiates from the early morning sun was not even visible. So we loaded our four-wheeler in the back of the truck, packed our lunch, and headed for what the boys call “The Big Blue Mountain”.

On this particular trip I took my boys to some of the old mines that dot the landscape of the Virgin Mountains and the Gold Butte region. What took place on our trip is something that my high school history teacher thought could only happen in dreams; my boys took a real interest in Nevada history. The pace of their questions only intensified as we visited each historic mining camp. “When did they mine here? What were they looking for? Where did they live? How did they dig the tunnels? How deep are they? How did they move the rock? Why is the water in the mines?” and on and on and on.

In my last article I linked to the Desert Companion Magazine in which they took a shot at explaining the politics surrounding Gold Butte. The result of the article is a genteel oversimplification which works to cheapen and malign one particular group’s values.  The concern is not to whom the public lands belong, whether that be figurative or literal ownership, as the article portrays. The debate is about whether a plan for a new designation with its indirect subtext and shadowing addendums is the correct tool to conserving the public’s landscape.  For those who are pushing this preferential proposal I ask, when has additional bureaucracy at the expense of diminished local stewardship ever helped to improve cultural resources management? History is riddled with holes because one group dismissed the values of the other.

It becomes apparent when you read past the headlines and captions below the pictures, that a plan that includes hundreds of thousands of acres of new Wilderness, is obviously trying to rebrand the image of the landscape and thus leave behind our history.

I offer that the reason so many are opposed to these landscape altering proposals is that the history and values we grew up learning, and that our families were a part of, is getting erased and rewritten. This fight has more depth than a schoolyard dispute over the sandbox and who gets to play because they were there first. This is about the history that is getting wiped clean to make way for someone else’s manufactured, feel-good vision of public land.

In the mean time I will continue to take my children out and teach and show and experience our Nevada History first hand. 

On wilderness: Wilderness as a Trophy
Designations as a Management Tool: Learning the Hard Way
Defining Landscape: Swath of Country
Access: Defining Access
Management Practices: Creating a Responsible Environment
Threats to Public Lands: What Do You See
Limiting our Lands: Misconception of Public Pressure

Friday, February 28, 2014

It Doesn't Take Long...

As the pages of the calendar roll through the months, the intrigue surrounding Gold Butte seems to keep in step with the steady flip of the page.

Over the last few months I have met with different folks who are active and involved in the formalities that have been designed for Gold Butte. The discussions seem to keep the same steady pattern they have for years. With the New Year’s goals, and a seemingly renewed effort by those with a special interest, the pressure continues to mount and the outcries get broadcast even louder (although it seems to the same audience). The hopefuls, with stars in their eyes (and hoping for one on the map) still believe that bureaucracy and government can save our public lands.

From time to time, I start to get a little cynical and maybe a bit pessimistic about the whole deal. However every time I start to feel this way I load up my family, hook up our clean one owner of a trailer that we warmly call the beast, and we head for Gold Butte country. Just last weekend we spent three days camping and Whitney Pockets and touring the country side. After a weekend out in God’s country I remember why I am active in trying to preserve this piece of our public lands and the experience of it all.

Once out in this beautiful country it doesn't take long to remember why I stay actively involved in the politics of Gold Butte. 

 Here is to hoping that Congress and our President will focus on the issues that Washington can possibly help in a positive way and let the land managing be done by the local offices already created to do as such...

In the mean time go and enjoy our public lands.

As a quick side note recently Southern Nevada’s local NPR station weighed in with their own estimation as to the “issues” facing Gold Butte. You can read the article at the following link:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Creaking Hinges of Idealism

“I heard somebody open and shut the gate to the barn lot, but I didn’t look around. If I didn’t look around it would not be true that somebody had opened the gate with the creaky hinges, and that is a wonderful principle for a man to get hold of. What you don’t know don’t hurt you, for it aint real. They called that Idealism in my book I had when I was in college, and after I got hold of that principle I became an idealist. I was a brass bound idealist in those days.  If you are an Idealist it does not matter what you do or what goes on around you because it isn’t real anyway.” -- All the Kings Men – Robert Penn Warren

I ran across this passage while Reading the novel, All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren, and couldn’t help but consider this concept within today’s political scene. Today Washington is full of lobbyists and special interest groups whose objective is to be an uncompromising idealist.  These individual groups work with a one track mind impassioned by a mission statement to ignore the reality around them and focus their resources to push their vision of utopia. Within the world of lobbying ideals, they can ignore the sounds behind them, for if they don’t turn around and look, then it aint real.

The short sided attitude of, “it isn’t real anyways”, might work when vying for time within the confined space of political influence, however when this attitude is taken ahold of by those actually creating policy, the effects are far more disastrous. For instance when an elected representative introduces legislation to designate handpicked tracks of land and mandate its management practices, they are under the influence of idealism. They circumvent the infrastructure created specifically to manage public lands and sell out to the delusions of a narrow ideal.  Though this idyllic landscape paints the picture of utopia it acts as a thin veneer to mask the sounds of the creaky hinges behind them.

 In the world of public lands management the sounds of the creaking hinges that are being ignored are things like wildfires. If politicians want to chalk these up as a result of global warming that is their choice, but the reality is that there is a lot more to this picture than a warming climate. The mismanagement of public lands for years and idealistic ignorance only adds fuel to the fires that rage within our public lands.

We need to invite our elected representatives to turn around and look at the direct consequences of their legislation upon our public lands. We need to demand that they quit ignoring the sounds behind them and quit pretending that creating idealistic legislation with a hands-off approach to public lands is providing any real value. A local based approach to create and maintain a multiple use landscape will be the only fix to the ever increasing squeaking hinges of our mismanaged public lands.