Thursday, August 12, 2010

Calling BS

Growing up one of my families favorite pastimes was playing games. One of the family favorites was called “BS”. In this game you deal out all of the cards in the deck so every player has the same amount of cards. The game is started by the first player laying all the 2’s that they have face down on the table in a pile and calling out how many of the cards they laid down. The next person lays down their 3’s face down on the pile and calling how many cards they laid down. It goes around and around like this until the first person runs out of cards. However there are a few little tricks you can use to help yourself get ahead. Sometimes in the game you may not have the right cards when it comes to your turn or you might slip in a different card than you are supposed to, to try and get ahead, so you can win. However if another player suspects you of trying to slip in the wrong cards when it’s your turn the other player calls out “BS” and the player who tried to pull a fast one gets stuck with all the cards in the pile. Well this doesn’t seem much different than the politics it takes to get legislation passed, except the stakes are much higher, for all the players. 

Currently in Clark County there are a number of “conservation minded” public lands projects in the works that could potentially require congressional action. Some of these include projects in the Las Vegas Wash, Tule Springs, the Nellis Dunes and Gold Butte. When talking with our representatives and those involved with these projects they often refer to an upcoming Clark County Public Lands Bill. This future bill would bundle all of these projects into one hand for one vote. I am sure that this makes things a lot easier for our congressional representatives however when looking at the above hand there is one card that doesn’t fit.

At the 500,000 foot ‘Washington level’ I am sure that these projects seem like a good match. However at the local level this is like slipping in a king with three Jacks. Yes they are all good cards but should they all be bundled into one hand in the hopes of getting a little ahead in the game? 

Gold Butte is a very distinct region and requires a much different management style than the projects within the Vegas Valley. Grouping a 1,000 acre off-road facility with a 350,000 acre NCA including a proposed 133,000 acres of wilderness is BS. Creating a management tool for Gold Butte is a huge project and will take time and facts to develop it correctly. To quickly bundle it up and say an NCA is the save-all quick fix to the issues that face Gold Butte is BS. Gold Butte should not be a pawn in election year politics.

If our elected officials want to demonstrate that they are responsible representatives then when they throw down their cards with this public lands bill they should not try and pull a fast one with Gold Butte. Yes, bundling it with Nellis Dunes is most likely good political strategy, but at the price of dictating an irreparable management decision to appease the squeaky wheels of special interests?

Gold Butte is no doubt a terrific project and a comprehensive sustainable strategy needs to be developed. However rushing a half shod, imbalanced proposal built on mind-boggling bureaucracy is senseless and unrepresentative. If you want to do something positive for Gold Butte then push aside the partisan and special interest agendas and let’s get to work on defining sustainable objectives and building a management plan that suits Gold Butte and its diverse landscape on a timetable that fits the needs of Gold Butte not politics.