Monday, December 12, 2011

Whitney Pockets Clean Up 2011

Thanks to everyone who showed up to the Public Lands Conservation Committee cleanup project at Whitney Pockets on Saturday, December 10th. 

We had over 75 people sign in and contribute to the work effort. 

Thanks to State Assemblyman Cresent Hardy for the food for the BBQ. 

Thanks to Partners In Conservation (PIC) for the paper goods and garbage sacks.

We had people from Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Logandale and Overton showing their support for local public lands and their willingness to be involved and do their part in responsible use and community stewardship. 

We are already planning our next project for the spring out to Gold Butte. Please friend our facebook page to stay informed on our Community stewardship projects.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Public Lands and Community Involvement

This was a column I wrote for Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins District B Winter 2012 newsletter

The outdoor recreational opportunities available in rural Clark County are as vast as the country is open. As more people have become aware of these opportunities, and the uses diversify, the need for more involvement to care for our backcountry has increased.  

A growing number of residents in Commission District B are coming together to resolve the challenges that face public lands. We believe that public lands policy should be developed and implemented on a community level. Our focus is not on gaining a bureaucratic designation but instead providing local, on the ground solutions to the challenges that face our public lands.  

We are working to provide sustainable public lands management initiatives that are built on the framework of community involvement, conservation and responsible use. An actively involved community working together with the land managing agencies creates and provides the protection that our public lands need.  

Some of the projects we accomplished in 2011 include a roads monitoring project, providing dumpsters on high usage weekends, a community cleanup project and a historic documentation project.  

With the upcoming year we will be focusing on growing community stewardship of our public lands and encouraging people to get out and enjoy Clark County’s beautiful backcountry. For more information please

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reckless Recognition

The dialog surrounding Gold Butte over the last few years has focused on the goal of designating Gold Butte as a National Conservation Area (NCA). The tactics and rational as to why this particular designation would be the answer to all the woes that face Gold Butte has evolved and changed, depending on the audience, but the NCA designation continues to be a roadblock to any other conversation.

In the spring of 2010 I had the opportunity to meet with the director of the BLM, Robert Abbey and visit Gold Butte with him and other community and political leaders. Standing around the graves of Art Coleman and William Garret, Director Abbey touted the benefits of the NCA as a way to share Gold Butte with a larger community and gain national recognition for Gold Butte. During the summer of 2011 I had the opportunity to meet Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes where he echoed the opinion that Gold Butte was deserving of national recognition. Recently Caesars Entertainment and other corporations and businesses, far removed from the conversation and lack adequate knowledge of the situation, have added their support for a nationally recognized Gold Butte. Special interest, political appointees and big business agree that an NCA is the way to achieve this recognition.

The problem with the logic that Gold Butte deservers more recognition is that it blatantly ignores the fact that Gold Butte does not currently have the infrastructure or the management plan in place to adequately manage the influx of visitors that will come with national recognition. Recognition and even funding don’t solve many of the problems that face our public lands. Look at Red Rock NCA. It still experiences extreme cases of vandalism and carries the same designation sought for Gold Butte. A bureaucratic designation does not solve the problems that face our public lands, it exacerbates them. The simple fact that the people who are calling for this designation are the same people complaining that Gold Butte is not adequately managed clearly illustrates that they either have an ulterior motive, which is not the long term success of our public lands, or that they are blinded by their own ambition and fail to see the contradiction of their own arguments. Recognition does not equal protection.

We cannot pretend that we can keep Gold Butte to ourselves or hide it from those who enjoy the diverse recreational opportunities that are available within the Gold Butte area. However we can also not ignore the fact there are risks associated with a national designation and increased usage without the proper framework in place before that designation. The short term economic benefits that may possibly come with a national designation will be negated in the long term if this agenda is rushed and the risks that accompany higher usage are not properly addressed. Without having adequate planning, proper management and the infrastructure in place before there is increased usage the outcome will work only to complicate and intensify any problems that are currently experienced in the Gold Butte area. Reckless recognition will result in increased damage which will then be followed by restrictions and a loss of access to our public lands thereby invalidating the original intent of the designation. An actively involved community working together with the land managing agencies creates and provides protection, not bureaucratic designations.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Facing the Funding Reality

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Money is a reality of life. I am not so naive to not understand that it takes money to accomplish conservation and protection. Lofty ideals though they may be, their societal value is burdened with a heavy cost. Capital is required to accomplish these objectives and certainly there could always be more to go around. It is with this rationale that people are marketing the NCA agenda. During various discussions with interested participants there are three main points that are repeatedly identified for potential revenue sources to compensate for the cost of this agenda.

The first and most widely touted potential source of added wealth is a congressional appropriation that would be tied to a congressional designation. It is true that some other NCA designations have gotten a congressional appropriation. However it is small in respect to the actual total cost of managing the area and the appropriation is actually estimated to decrease with time (see Red Rock Canyon NCA 2010 Business Plan).  It is time to face reality and recognize that a congressional appropriation is not going to happen in this economic climate. At a time when every other week we are faced with a government shutdown over debt ceilings, FEMA, the FAA or any other potential increase in spending, the belief of additional funding on top of the Interiors current budget is nothing more than failing to face the reality of our current circumstance.

One of the other lines of reasoning used to push the NCA agenda is that the higher level of protection will give Gold Butte higher standing when funding is allocated in the regions yearly budget from the Interior.  This means that there is no new money allocated to the BLM to manage the region, instead more will have to be allocated to Gold Butte because it deserves preferential treatment.  There is no doubt that Gold Butte is deserving however, there are many deserving public lands within the Southern Nevada District and none can afford to lose even one dollar of their current allocation. Let us not protect one at the sacrifice of the other. If the true intention is to truly provide better public lands management then “special” designations only mean other places are not special. This does not correspond with the holistic approach of responsible public lands management. It only draws out that these special designations have become a vehicle to drive an agenda for one particular interest.

SNPLMA money is drying up. This is money that resulted from the sale of BLM lands with the proceeds devoted to the acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands and other conservation initiatives. It was a great source of revenue while it lasted however it cannot be counted on as a reliable source for future funding. The graph clearly shows the trend.

Never spend money before you have earned it – Thomas Jefferson

Funding is a major component of any plan but it is not the only component. Reckless recognition, entrusting fate to chance in the vain hope of money, will work only to further complicate public lands management. Calling for a designation without first having a detailed management plan works only to expose the shortcomings of that designation and those calling for it.

A one, five and ten year plan has to be developed that identifies what needs to be accomplished and the costs of such plans. This way management can evolve with awareness to its short comings and labor to remedy itself. We need to prioritize the conservation efforts so as the budget adjusts other potential revenue sources can be identified. Private\Public partnerships can work together to fill in those resource gaps and accomplish those objectives that benefit the overall good of the area.

We need to move past vain political and self-interest and build a plan that will accomplish conservation and provide social benefit to the community and our public lands. This can be done not in ignorance of the cost but with conscious consideration of such.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board and Federal Lands

At our 2011 September Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board meeting we adopted with a unanimous vote, the following position letters to send to our elected representatives in Washington DC.

A member of the community who had recently moved to the valley made a comment about the Town Board taking time to deal with federal issues and public lands. For a person who grew up in the west, and especially when the vast majority of our state is controlled by the federal government, I am well aware of the significance that federal policy has on our daily lives. Its impacts are felt in a variety of ways. It doesn’t matter if it is mining regulation, wildlife and ecology policy, environmental policy, renewable energy regulation, recreational use policy, funding for our land management agencies or national parks or a diverse range of other policy initiatives. When it comes to our federal lands its management has a direct impact on our life. It is important for the local communities, who are closest to the land and aware of its impacts and uses, to send their views and concerns to their representatives.

I was proud to cast my vote in support for the following letters as a member of the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board

Dear Senator Heller,

As stated in another letter, we deeply appreciate your attention to the issues that concern the citizens of Moapa Valley.  As the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board, we are compelled to communicate the opinions of a majority of our residents; in particular, residents feel very strongly about S. 1087/H.R. 1581 – The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011.  Thank you for your continual work in regards to providing more public access and multiple use opportunities on public lands and in particular for co-sponsoring this bill as well as sponsoring S. 1554, prohibiting the establishment of national monuments without the express authorization of Congress. 

43 million acres of land have been locked up for decades even though these very acres were analyzed and determined NOT to be suitable for wilderness designation.  It is inconceivable that this refusal to release lands has gone on for so long and it is shameful that special interest groups have dictated public policy regarding public lands to such a drastic extent.  These two bills must be passed as they seek to return 43 million acres of public land back to the public.  Furthermore, these released 43 million acres must be released back to the designation they were before the wilderness study area designation. 

On a broader note, the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board is quite concerned with the non-productivity of public land in general; we are addressing such, along with the Moapa Valley Chamber of Commerce, in a resolution which you will receive in the near future.  Decades ago, enterprising residents had the opportunity to develop a resource or a skill and turn that into a job that would support their family.  Today the burdensome nature of modern governmental bureaucracy is akin to walking on glue; after a few steps, you are so helplessly bogged down that giving up and quitting seems the only option.  We applaud your efforts, as well as that of the other Congressmen and Senators that created the Jobs Frontier Report.  We strongly support this report and the work being done to bring jobs back to the west and in particular, to the rural west.  We look forward to following this process, supporting real change that creates jobs, and actively helping in any way we can.  Thank you for your work to date on the economic issues that overshadow our lives.

Please support the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011; thank you for all you have done and are doing on our behalf

Dear Congressman Heck,

Thank you for the multiple times you have visited Moapa Valley, informed us of upcoming issues, and requested our opinions and concerns regarding such.  We deeply appreciate the time you and your staff have spent learning the concerns and thoughts of rural residents.  

As such, we respectfully submit the following for your use and request that you vote accordingly on the following public land issues/bills:
  1. Secretary Salazar’s letter to Members of Congress requesting identification of lands that may be appropriate candidates for congressional protection under the Wilderness Act:  

The Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board does not support wilderness designation of any kind and strongly requests that you forward no recommendations to the Secretary; we further request that your comments to the Secretary note that Clark County was involved in a thorough public lands bill in 2002.  It was our understanding, at that time, that this wilderness issue was over in our county.  Although our community felt that entirely too much land was designated as wilderness, we felt we could live with that—given that bill was the last public lands designation bill.  To our utmost sorrow, that is not the case as more wilderness in Clark County is proposed almost yearly.  IF Secretary Salazar feels that he must re-address the wilderness issue in our county, we request:
  1. Not one additional acre of wilderness be designated as the BLM does not recognize any lands in northeast Clark County as having wilderness characteristics,
  2. That the top of Virgin Mountain WSA be released back to the previous land designation as this area has been extensively used by humans for over 100 years and this land does not contain wilderness characteristics, per the BLM’s own documentation,
  3. That the Million Hills WSA be released back to its pre-WSA designation; this area is rich in minerals and therefore this area should be studied for possible mineral extraction which would benefit the local economies and our nation; additionally, the Million Hills WSA never contained wilderness qualities and as such should be released,
  4. The boundary to the Arrow Canyon Wilderness Area needs to be adjusted to the south side of the wash, at the very least.  The boundary is now in the middle of the wash which is confusing to everyone.  Also, this wash floods all the time; it is the main drainage that the Pahranagat and Double Wash drain into; since it floods all the time, the wash itself contains no wilderness qualities.  
  1. S. 407/H.R. 758 – National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act:

The Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board respectfully requests that you support these bills and this concept:  that Congress and only Congress can establish monuments; designating monuments is an unchecked presidential power which should be restored to Congress.  We further request that the state legislature and governor of the state wherein a monument is proposed must also approve of such designation before it can happen.  States must have a say in how public land is managed; the federal government is too far removed from those living next to such lands and the states must be involved in this process.  
  1. S. 1473/H.R. 2745 – Mesquite Land Act:

The Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board recognizes that the City of Mesquite needs an amendment to clarify several minor issues relating to the period of time that they can purchase land and relating to their Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Plan and the Hydrologic Monitoring and Mitigation Plan; we therefore request that you support such bills AS LONG AS these bills or any other introduced bill or amendment does not contain language designating any portion of the Gold Butte complex as an NCA, monument, or wilderness.  Any such attempt to pass legislation regarding Gold Butte designation is strongly opposed by the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board; such opposition is consistent with our previous positions in 2008, 2009, and 2010.   

If you have any questions or wish to discuss the above issues in more detail, please know that you are welcome at our town board meetings and in our community any time.  We deeply appreciate your diligence to our concerns and the work that you do on our behalf in Washington D.C.  Thank you,

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What is Protection

Wednesday September 28, 2011 the Deputy Secretary of the Interior, David J. Hayes came into mesquite Nevada. The Secretary came to discuss Gold Butte with the local stakeholders. The meeting was billed as an opportunity to talk about Gold Butte and setting the conservation priorities for the area.

Deputy Secretary Hayes started the meeting off by stating that Secretary Salazar and the Interior Department wants to promote special areas found within public lands and give them “special protections” and the recognition that they deserve. Deputy Secretary Hayes talked about Secretary Salazar’s letter that was sent to all Congressional Representatives asking for areas within their district that are deserving of special protection. He spoke in broad terms about the lofty ideals of conservation and of its importance. It is my opinion that the Secretary worked to set a tone for the meeting where people would feel comfortable sharing their views on what would be best for the area. However it was not hard to see through the thinly veiled bias of a political appointee.

The message that I delivered was that we need to take the politics off the table and work to build a sustainable future for Gold Butte. It will be after that plan is built that we can pursue the correct political avenue to accomplish that objective, not before. I consider the top down approach, of Washington pushing the agenda and seeking their own designation as disingenuous and backwards politics. This strategy does more to erode the public’s confidence that consensus, rather than politics, will provide a long term solution.

The use of broad terms to generalize complex issues acts only to stir the pot. It does not encourage people to seek the middle ground but rather to assume that their own unyielding interpretation and preconceived ideas are the only answer. It works only to corral the scope of people’s ability to think outside previous practice. This is especially the case when many of these words have a distinct connotation associated to them whether that be negative or positive. For example “protection” to one might mean Wilderness, and to the person next to you, that might mean protecting access to trails. If we cannot advance the conversation past politically charged and timeworn rhetoric then the standoff will continue.


After the meeting I had the opportunity to meet with the Mayor of Mesquite. The Mayor has a plan to put a group of the interested participants together to start anew at building consensus.  As I understand, his goal is to get everyone to the table on the premise of starting with a clean slate. At this point each item can then be discussed as to the pros and cons and its long term consequences on the sustainability of Gold Butte. It will be here that the community develops its long term vision of what they want to see Gold Butte become. It will be here at the community level where a reasonable solution will develop.

I support the Mayor’s plan for Mesquite to take the reins and build a community consensus. It will be at that point that we find the correct political avenue to push that agenda, not the other way around.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Better Model for Governing

In January of 2011 Senator Heller, then a congressman for Nevada’s 2nd congressional district, wrote an article for the Field and Stream magazine titled Wilderness Does Not Equal Effective Wildlife Management. This is an outstanding letter and I commend Senator Heller for laying his views out on the table. The outdoor recreation community is in need of a Senator who will support common sense management initiatives on public lands here in Nevada. I believe that this is a perfect opportunity for Senator Heller to make his stance on Gold Butte known and be our representative.

I would like to build on the concepts that Heller’s letter in Field and Stream offer and put those principles into practice right here in our own state.  In his letter, Senator Heller talks about the impact that Federal land management policies have on a community.  Policy that is created in Washington reduces the local community’s ability to be involved in the process. Policy should be developed and implemented on a community level not written and mandated in Washington.  We need to take the Washington politics out of public lands management and allow the communities and the agencies that were established to manage our public lands do just that.

Senator Heller seems to encourage this type of management from his statement in the letter in Field and Stream, “Maintaining healthy ecosystems and wildlife populations is not a simple or easy task. This task becomes more complicated when land management decisions are taken out of the hands of state wildlife officials, local communities, and stakeholders who know the area best.

Gold Butte doesn’t need further bureaucratic overhead from Washington. The current management tools are in place to properly manage Gold Butte right now. Local community stewardship, in partner with the local agencies, is the type of management that I would hope our representatives in Washington would promote. In a quote from Senator Heller’s letter I believe he agrees, “a transparent public process that includes input from local officials, communities, and stakeholders is a better model for governing.” We are entitled to the transparent public process that Senator Heller talked about. There should be no shortcuts and no quick wins in public lands management.

I will be calling on Senator Heller to not support any new federal designation at Gold Butte but instead support the local communities and the agencies in their continued effort to design a management plan that protects both our natural resources and our access to public lands.

Heller's letter in Field and Stream can be found here:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Has Changed

Wednesday August 31st Stan Hardy, Elise McAllister and I had the opportunity to sit down with Congressman Joe Heck at Sugars Home Plate. Our conversation focused on public land issues within Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District and specifically Gold Butte.

As we sat down and started to discuss the issues facing our public lands congressman Heck stopped me and said, “Dustin I remember going out to gold butte with you last year. We spent a lot of time in the truck going over the history of Gold Butte and the current political issues.” Cutting right to the chase, Congressman Heck pointedly asked me, “Dustin, what has changed since we last met out at Gold Butte?”

My initial reaction to this question was, well nothing, it’s the same ol’ story. Our congressional representatives are being targeted by outside special interests that are on yet another desperate trophy hunt. However as I thought about that question, my initial thoughts were only a small piece of that story. This oversimplification is a disservice to the agencies and the volunteers who have worked be involved and continue the service that keeps Gold Butte protected.

Politically, yes it is the same ol’ fight.  However politics is not what provides sustainable solutions for public lands management. Rather the politics muddy the waters and detract from accomplishing tangible objectives. It is the people and agencies who care for Gold Butte that make Gold Butte a success. Over the last year considerable progress has been made on many fronts that contribute to Gold Buttes developing success story. For example:

  • According to the Local BLM office volunteer activities are increasing
  • Completion of BLM Management Plans providing enhanced protection specific to Gold Butte
  • Reduction in site impacts due to Roads Designation Plan
  • Continued progress of MSHCP agency projects
  • Completion of the Roads Monitoring Project at Gold Butte

Parties pandering to politicians for bureaucratic designations are a hindrance to the effort, not a contribution. The local communities and the local BLM office working together to create an environment where people can recreate responsibly, while the cultural and natural resources are protected and enjoyed, is a win for all legitimate participants. Full commitment by the agencies and all parties involved in public lands stewardship, to the management plans that are currently in place for Gold Butte, will provide the protection that many are calling for. Things are changing out at Gold Butte. They are changing in a positive direction for both protection and access, falling short of only added costs and redundant bureaucracy.

I would like to thank Congressman Joe Heck for taking the time to come out to Moapa Valley and giving us the opportunity to meet with him as our representative in Washington DC. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wilderness as a Trophy

Originally Printed in the Moapa Valley Progress August 24, 2011

I vividly remember my first deer hunt. I got a little forked horn, nothing spectacular in comparison but it was my first deer and so a great success in my rite of passage.

I remember sitting around the fire with my old man that night. The silhouette of my hanging deer drawn on the cedar trees by the flickering light of our camp fire on a cold autumn night told of the day’s earlier event.

I remember the twinge of disappointment I felt at not bringing home that trophy buck yet still proud at the day’s success.
As we crouched over the Dutch oven, eating the choice cuts out of the cast iron with our knives, I asked my father of his first hunt and if he was able to bring home a trophy buck. His answer and the simple lesson taught within have stuck with me over the years.

He said to me, “Ya know a lot of things have changed since then. It wasn’t the big commercialized enterprise that it is now. If we hunted then it was because we were hungry. We didn’t hunt so we could put a mount on the wall to showcase our trophy, we hunted because we needed meat on the table during the long winter months.”
He reflected that no, he didn’t specifically remember the first deer he brought down. But he remembered many cold fall mornings on back of a horse glassing the country side, knowing grandma was home waiting for him and depending on the days success.
I have thought about that night a lot over the years, listening to my father talk of how the simple act of bringing down a deer has evolved over the years, even within the short time from one generation to the next. However, the sport of trophy hunting isn’t exclusive to big game hunting. This progression, or regression depending on your stance, has also taken place in the hunt for Wilderness.
When the “Wilderness Act” was put forth and passed in 1964, I suppose that it was founded on a legitimate reason to protect some of those remaining places where man is visitor.

However much like my father’s story, the original intent has transformed throughout the years. It has evolved from protecting wilderness into manufacturing Wilderness. The objective for which Wilderness was created has fatefully deviated from its original course and intent.

The hunt for Wilderness has become more about the trophy than it has about the ideals for which it was created. People have made it their livelihood to become hired guns that hunt for Wilderness.

These people or groups have had their sights set on Gold Butte for many years. Whether it is for personal gain or for their own satisfaction and glorification, the trophy hunt for new Wilderness that has ravaged the west needs to stop.

No doubt Gold Butte is an amazing piece of our country but a bureaucratic label that has been demeaned and reinvented over the years to fit a narrow special interest agenda is not what will protect it for future generations. Special interest groups who pander to the emotions and simplify the debate down to ‘save it or destroy it’ degrade all interested parties and promote the partisan rancor that plagues our political system.
Wilderness will not save Gold Butte.

As William Cronon has written in his article The Trouble with Wilderness, “The time has come to rethink wilderness. We live in an urban-industrialized civilization but at the same time pretend to ourselves that our real home is in the wilderness. Wilderness is not quite what it seems.”

I am not advocating that there be no protection for Gold Butte and I point out that this is not the case. Gold Butte is currently protected as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

The continual solicitation to manufacture more Wilderness within the region of Gold Butte is nothing more than a special interest trophy hunt with their agenda at heart and not what is best for our public lands.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Building a Base

What a long strange trip it’s been, traveling the politically rutted road of public lands policy surrounding Gold Butte. However, along the way I have seen some great sights and have learned a few good lessons.

It was little more than a year ago, that I was meeting with our congressional delegation on a regular basis. It was in those meetings that I was told point blank that the Gold Butte NCA and Wilderness proposal was a done deal. It was only in May of 2010 that the Clark County Commission passed their naïve and disingenuous resolution, reworked at the eleventh hour, in support of this same plan. We met with candidates running for office at every level of government, we met with Washington bureaucrats, lobbyists, local mayors, county commissioners and all manner of elected officials. Through it all, in spite of the odds, we were able to hold out through the election cycle of 2010 and the resulting lame duck session and fight off yet another inept and heavy-handed proposal.
Why was it that these politically privileged plans never made it out of the dark recesses of the chambers of those political elite? It was because of you. It was because when phone calls needed to be made, when letters needed to be written and a show of hands at a meeting was needed, you were ready to rise up.  I have seen what a coalition of communities coming together, fighting for something they believe in, can accomplish politically. It is bigger, better and stronger than any halfhearted special interest group could hope to buy or manufacture. 

It is my goal with this blog to provide a place where like-minded people can find information on current events and have a place where ideas can be shared that help promote local stewardship for our public lands. I would hope that the efforts of this blog have helped build the base of community support for issues surrounding public lands at Gold Butte. However, I need your help, in building an even larger community base to support Gold Butte. I need help in sharing our message to the community that cares about Gold Butte. The time will come again that we will need to fend off yet another special interest proposal that is trying to cash in on hundreds of thousands of acres to add to their trophy chest.  We need to stand ready as a community to yet again block the next unreasonable proposal.

I am not asking for money, I won’t spam you with emails or Facebook posts, I am not even asking you to come to any meetings, but I do need your help. 

Please share the link to the Save Gold Butte Facebook page to your Facebook friends and invite them to “Like” this page. Share the link to Save Gold Butte to your blogger friends and suggest they follow the blog with their blogger account. Help me build the base of community support for Gold Butte and keep our public lands accessible for everyone to enjoy.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Local Wilderness Discussions

The scoping meetings for the Lime Canyon and Jumbo Springs wilderness areas were held a few weeks ago. I was able to attend the meeting held in Overton. The meeting was not very well attended however the discussion that we had was constructive, and I believe, informative for both sides (the community and the BLM). The discussion focused on how to manage wilderness areas both in a broad sense and also specific components that would impact the wilderness within the Gold Butte region.

The wilderness that is found within Gold Butte is for the most part undeveloped and primitive. I know this seems common sense or logical even so, it was on these simple facts that I built the basis of my suggestion for future management for these areas. We don’t need big gouty signage cluttering the landscape pointing out the way. We don’t need interpretive signage for the visitor to be told what he or she is seeing. We don’t need fences telling us which side of the road or canyon is wilderness and which isn’t. We don’t need a big red delineation on the map calling visitors attention to these places.  If we have to have wilderness, if it has to be drawn on a map so we “know” what it is, then we ought to let it be what we want it to be, wilderness.

Different sub topics like managing weeds, habitat, water sources and fire control were also discussed within the meeting.  However, most of those conversations came back to the overarching theme of managing the entire region or landscape instead of a small subset within that region. The community members who were in attendance seemed to agree that trying to manage a 4,000 acre swath of country within a 350,000 acre complex was of little worth at best and a poor utilization of government  resources when talking about weed control or habitat conservation. The whole complex needs to be managed as a single unit. To try and manage a 4,000 acre piece while leaving the remainder vulnerable because it doesn’t have a bureaucratic title is ridiculous.

This is only a brief overview of what was discussed at the Overton scoping meeting. There were two other meetings held both in Bunkerville and Mesquite. I was a little disappointed at the attendance of the Overton meeting. These meetings are both a great opportunity for the community to get to know our BLM staff and also for the community to express their thoughts and feelings about local land management. It is these meetings were we can hold our BLM staff accountable for local land management practices. If we don’t take the time to tell them how we would like to see it managed by the time you grab your pitchfork and light your torch it is probably too late to do any good.

The Moapa Valley Progress covered this meeting along with the other community meetings. Please take the time read their article and get a more well-rounded assessment of the community meetings: