Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Up and Running

Last Saturday, September 25, was the start to the Gold Butte Historic Documentation Project. We had a good turnout but there is always room for more.  The site where we will be collecting our documentation is up and running and we are working to get more content posted all the time. Please help us collect stories and information relating to Gold Butte’s rich history. To see some of the information already posted visit:

If you have any questions or want to submit information or links to other sites with histories already posted email me (Dustin) at:

Or Elise:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Collecting Gold Butte's History

It is not hard to understand why so many people are taken with the Gold Butte region. It is filled with incredibly beautiful and stunning geologic features. While standing at Whitney Pockets, Devils Throat, Horse Springs, or Hell’s Kitchen it doesn’t take long to be overtaken by the natural beauty and marvel at the earth’s natural process of molding mountains, hills and valleys. This geologic backdrop overlaid with a rich biological community comes together to create one of Nevada’s most beautiful backcountry destinations. However this is only one piece of the landscape that makes Gold Butte so incredible. The cultural history, deep-rooted in Gold Butte’s natural evolution, is a central element to understanding the Sense of Place that all of us have been so captivated by.

The Historic Documentation project was born from a conversation that Elise McAllister and I had about how we could contribute to Public Lands Day in a meaningful way. We wanted to embrace the overall goal of National Public Lands Day, which is to celebrate service and recreation on public lands, but also build on that theme to encourage more long lasting support specific to Gold Butte. Elise and I both share the concern of losing some of the historic features within Gold Butte particularly related to mining, ranching and our pioneer heritage. These pieces of history contributed greatly to the story behind Gold Butte. It is with this mindset that we start this project.

The overall goal of this project is to create a catalog of places within Gold Butte and the stories behind them. Our goal is to ensure that the places and the stories behind them are preserved and accessible. Some have been lost and many are not freely accessible but with this project we hope to begin to recover and collect as much as we can. This project can only be carried out with the help and support of the people who love and enjoy our public lands. We hope to collect hard facts such as names and dates but also personal accounts and your experiences with places out at Gold Butte. Family stories and your personal narratives is what will bring this project to life.

Please try and attend Public Lands Day at Whitney Pockets Saturday morning at 8AM for the kick off to our Historic Documentation Project. However if you cannot make it to Saturdays event, this will be an ongoing project where you can submit stories and information to us any time to improve the project. I will add a page to this site with all the information you will need to help out. Thank you for your support and hope to see you Saturday morning.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Historical Documenting Project – Public Lands Day 2010 Gold Butte

Bring your Family, bring your four-wheeler or four-wheel drive and come enjoy Gold Butte while helping to record and preserve our history. One of the projects for Public Lands Day is to start building a catalog of all the historic destination found within the Gold Butte region. The goal of this project is to ensure that all of our history gets preserved. We must be active participants in helping record our own history. We are working to give each piece of history its due credit that built the west and Clark County into what we enjoy today. We are working to record Native American cultural sites as well as Mining and Ranching. Each has played a significant role in building the Sense of Place in our western culture.

Saturday Morning from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM will be signups with the BLM at Whitney Pockets. We will have donuts for those who can make it. After signups we will break into the two different projects that we have scheduled for the day. One of the projects is to work on campsites around Whitney Pockets. If you are interested in this project you will probably want to bring some gloves and possibly some tools like a shovel and rock rake.

The other project will be the historical documenting project. With this project we will have a map and a list of places that we think need to be documented. However the list is neither complete nor do we know of all the places that are hidden within Gold Butte. Please come and share your knowledge with us so every place at Gold Butte will get its due credit. After we have worked on defining all of the places that we can, we will break up and each person or group is encouraged to visit their favorite place or a new spot at Gold Butte and help build our catalog. We want to record springs, mining camps, corrals, windmills, and other places within Gold Butte that helped shape its rich history. We are working to collect a photo, hopefully a little history behind the spot and possibly a GPS point or track to get out there.

Depending on the spot that you choose to go depends on how long you will be out. There is no official closing ceremony to attend. The real goal of public lands day is to connect people back with the public lands and work toward awareness so we can all better enjoy our big backyard.

Please come and join us Saturday morning at Whitney Pockets.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Public Lands Day 2010 - Gold Butte

Living in rural Northeast Clark County we have unique access to many of our States most beautiful landscapes. With this accessibility also comes responsibility. All of us need to be actively involved in managing our public lands. Please help us demonstrate that the public is still the central piece of public lands

Saturday September 25, 2010 is National Public Lands Day. National Public Lands Day celebrates service and recreation on public lands. The Public Lands Conservation Committee (PLCC) is working to get people involved to help keep the Gold Butte region clean and accessible for outdoor recreation. We are working to strengthen the community of good public land stewards.

We will be working on Campground improvements for Whitney Pockets and also a Historical Sites Documenting project that will help preserve the rich culture that makes the Gold Butte region distinct.

Please bring your families and be a part of what makes our public lands such a great success. Signups are at Whitney Pockets starting at 7:00 AM Saturday (Sept. 25) morning until 8:00 AM. The projects will begin soon after.

If you have any questions or need more details you can contact me (Dustin Nelson) at

Monday, September 13, 2010

Metrics to Management

Creating Practical Public Lands Policy

I am currently employed as a computer programmer. As a part of every application that I write I build a metrics component within the application. I track what functionality in the application gets used and how often. I do this because it allows me to make informed decisions about the applications that I manage. It allows me to take my metrics, things that I know, and translate that into a better management plan or process for the applications that I am tasked with maintaining. It is my opinion, that this same principle can be applied to managing our public lands.

While trying to sift and sort through all the claims and accusations about what is and what is not taking place at Gold Butte I have heard a lot of different claims from all sides. Working to come up with real world solutions, rather than hope a new political label will fix the “problem”, I thought I would try and gather what metrics I could on public lands at Gold Butte. How can we make management decisions based on abstracted hypothesis and unfounded assumptions?

If people, groups or management agencies have specific concerns about our public lands we have to sit down, list them out and come up with real world, practical solutions for each specific concern. The message that we sent to our representatives is something I truly believe; that we support a fair, transparent and open process to developing a management plan for our public lands. Collaboration and data create the opportunity to deliver results.

Increased Usage (Traffic Data and Visitor Count)
One of the biggest concerns that you hear and read over and over is about the increased usage of Gold Butte for a recreational destination. I won’t point out the obvious conflicting rationale of this claim coupled with, so we need to give Gold Butte more recognition. I will save that for a later post, but it’s something to think about.

In many peoples rational for whatever cause they champion you will hear the claim that there is increased traffic and usage out at Gold Butte. I am not disputing this claim however I wanted some actual numbers to in fact see what the increase in usage at Gold Butte is. I made contact with the BLM requesting this data along with other statistics relating to Gold Butte. Would you like to know what the actual increase of usage over time is? Me too! The BLM does not have any data, past or present, with regard to traffic or visitor counts for this region.

I am not disputing that the number of people that visit Gold Butte is growing. However, to use this rationale at face value with absolutely no numbers to back it up is foolish. People are making life altering management decisions for public lands, whether political or by the managing agency, with no actual data. The basis is nothing but elusive assumptions. How can you measure success unless your only goal is to restrict total access without baseline information and a clear and open objective?

I have heard the argument that we need more rangers to patrol Gold Butte. I do not have a stance on this because I don’t know enough about policing public lands for me to say one way or the other. Some simple questions that I have asked, that would help me better understand, I have never got answered. How many rangers do we need? Is this number calculated off the sheer acreage of the particular region? Is it based off of incident reports and tickets from the field?

When I requested the traffic data for Gold Butte I also asked for data on incidents in the Gold Butte region, both policing and cataloged incidents for cultural sites. I was told that there is some data for the last few years however this information is not available to the public. For people to use this rationale for hopes of getting an NCA without the proper data is short sighted and detrimental to other public lands within the BLM’s purview. This would do nothing but pilfer resources from other public lands within the state. Stressing one place and stripping others of their recognition.

If we are going to find legitimate solutions to the problems that face our public lands we have to first be able to define the problem, have a goal or solution we want to reach, have base line data to gage our progress, and continue to track metrics until we can honestly claim success or failure. There has to be accountability on all sides of the table. We cannot continue to allow people, agencies or special interest the luxury to hide behind a cloud of vagaries due to the lack of accurate and freely available information.

Metrics create accountability and accountability is like disclosure….its nice when there is some.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tip of the Iceberg

The other day I was reading an article in the High Country News about a planned pipeline through the Ruby Mountains for the delivery of natural gas. The quick synopsis of the article was that the normal “watch dog groups” and other eco-nut groups were not fighting this pipeline but supporting it. What? Really? Well the motive behind their silence is due to the fact that the company working the project offered to pay 22 million over ten years to these groups in the name of conservation. Well hell, if I was bribed I would keep my mouth shut too. 

Whether it’s channels like the Land and Water Conservation Fund created by congress which diverts federal excise taxes from offshore oil and gas development operations, money generated by the sale of “disposable” BLM land, an up and coming energy bill with new taxes, the prospects of a new climate change bill with its own new assemblage of taxes or just plain bribery by big business; all are working to create a pool of money in the name of conservation. With this new capital resource every overeager, fanatic preservationist is lining up to fund “their” project. The means may differ but the end result is the same.

I am more of an environmentalist than most honest people are comfortable with, however, I won’t be misled to believe that these groups and the agenda of special interest isn’t really about chasing dollars and power. I have seen with my own eyes the dollars blown on the tortoise and Moapa Dace to be fooled into thinking that the endangered species best interests are at heart. I was directly affected by “Clinton's Legacy” so I have a hard time believing that politicians are worried about public lands and conservation but stimulated by the hopes of writing their name in American History‏ for their own notoriety.

It’s in the name of conservation however it’s in the spirit of money, greed and power. There is more than meets the eye…

We need to find a way to cut through all the wearied rhetoric and political nonsense and work to provide valid solutions to the real problems that face our public lands. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our Unified Message

Many people have asked me what can they can do to help or be involved to preserve our public lands and access to them. Well the answer is, call your representatives and tell them how you feel about Gold Butte. We need to send a unified message to Washington. The time has come when you need to take action in regards to Gold Butte. Legislation is not currently introduced pertaining to Gold Butte however it is on the minds of our representatives. We need to make sure that they understand how we feel about Gold Butte. We need to ensure that our voice, the people who they represent in Washington, is well understood. It’s easy to sit back and blame special interest or the representatives removed from their constituents over 2,000 miles away. However if we do not take the time to call and specifically make OUR voice heard we have no place to complain. We have to take part.

The November election is looming and many of our representatives are on deck for judgment. If there is ever a time when they are most compelled to listen, it is now. We need to make certain that they clearly understand that the people who vote them in or out have a voice and demand to be represented. If you love Gold Butte, if you love access to your public lands and want a fair and evenhanded process to manage our lands you need to call your representatives TODAY and let them know.

Partners In Conservation and members of the Public Lands Conservation Committee have helped to put this message together:

“I respectfully request that Congresswoman Titus (or Senator Reid, etc.) replies to me (you will need to give your mailing address) and lets me know if SHE WILL SUPPORT A FAIR, OPEN, AND TRANSPARENT PROCESS OF PUBLIC MEETINGS AND WORKSHOPS FOR GOLD BUTTE THAT ARE SIMILAR TO THE MEETINGS HELD FOR THE LINCOLN COUNTY PUBLIC LANDS BILL OF 2005 WHEREIN EVERYONE MET AND WORKED THROUGH THE SPECIFIC ISSUES TOGETHER. GOLD BUTTE IS TOO CONTROVERSIAL, TOO IMPORTANT, TOO BIG OF AN AREA TO NOT HAVE A SERIES OF PUBLIC MEETINGS TO DISCUSS SPECIFIC ISSUES. I respectfully expect a reply to this request and if Congresswoman Titus will support a fair, open, and transparent series of public meetings, whom may I contact to get on a notification list?”

We believe that now is not the time to rant and rave about ‘no wilderness’, ‘no NCA’, etc. That message is falling on deaf ears and they hide behind the Clark County Commissioner’s Resolution of Support.

• Phone calls are the best, then letters, then emails
• We must be respectful; being dis-respectful gives them a reason to discard our comments
• We must be united and all say the same message (see above)
• A personal comment w/ the unified message would have significant impact because that demonstrates that we are united in our message, but that our phone calls, comments are personal, coming from individuals and NOT a mass mailing

Congresswoman Titus: Phone: (202) 225-3252

Senator Reid: Phone: 202-224-3542 
(or Toll Free for Nevadans): 1-866-SEN-REID (736-7343)

Senator Ensign: Phone: (202) 224-6244

Request that they let you know where they stand on the issues.

Please do not put this off until tomorrow. We need to let them know how we feel TODAY. Please call our representatives and send the message to Washington that you support a fair, open, and transparent process to managing our public lands.