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.