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: