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.