Monday, August 13, 2012

Fire On The Mountain

There is a fire burning on the Virgin Mountains

On Saturday night August 11, 2012 about 7:00 the kids and I were sitting on the front porch watching a  lightening storm roll in up around the Virgin Mountain. About 7:15 - 7:20 you could start to seeing the smoke come off the mountain and at 7:45 the fire trucks from the Logandale Volunteer station went out a goin' and a blowin'.

Today August 13,2012 on the way home from work about 4:30 PM it was still smoking up on the mountain.

If everyone would quit arguing about what to call it and just work to properly administer the plans we already have and be a part of the solution instead of the problem, there might be something left to actually pass to the next generation.

Fire on the mountain, run boys run....
thanks to the volunteer firefighters for putting their lives in every meaning and sense of the word, on the line

Saturday, August 11, 2012

With Time

It is my feeling that Time ripens all things; with Time all things are revealed; Time is the father of truth.
-- Francois Rabelais

Yet another ridiculous proposal has been set forth concerning Gold Butte’s management. This one proposes a National Monument be created. This only gives evidence of the outside influences that manipulate public lands management, the lack of common sense, lack of regard for the State, its elected representatives and its citizens.

With time, more people are becoming aware of the long term pitfalls of poor public lands management and the risk it become to a community’s long term sustainability and independence. One important issue that faces most of the Western United States is that of water and our access to it. As communities move forward the need arises to not only protect existing water rights but also to secure new water sources. This ensures its future security and allows a community to remain independent. However recently with the threat of political interference, more people are becoming aware of the long term affects and the consequences it will have directly on the community.

The Board for the Virgin Valley Water District has started to take notice of the recent potential threat being talked about in the Gold Butte and Virgin Mountain area. The water district owns water rights on the Virgin Mountain but has no right-of-ways to access the water. Now they are getting hemmed in by more and more red tape.

"We have good map designations of the area that we need in order to maintain access and establish our rights-of-way," Rock added. "It's moving very fast now."

Karl Gustaveson, Board President, favored making the trip. "If it becomes a monument, it could be even more difficult to maintain those rights. There's too big of a gamble not to address this now."

"It will be impossible to get our water rights added in after it’s designated a monument," Rock advised.

To read an article written by the Mesquite Citizen paper covering the water board meeting please click the following link:

Berkley is Back At It

Rep. Shelly Berkley (D-Nev.) has formally requested President Barack Obama to declare the Gold Butte complex a National Monument.
Berkley was one of more than a dozen members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environmental Coalition (SEEC) that sent a letter to the White House urging the President to use his authority under the National Antiquities Act to designate more public lands as national monuments. The July 25 letter specifically included the Gold Butte Complex as well as the Pine Forest Range, both in Nevada.
The letter reviewed the fact that Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a report last November which had highlighted eighteen “legislative opportunities” to designate public lands as wilderness or National Conservation Areas. Claiming full public support for these conservation measures, the letter then blamed a Republican majority in the House for taking no action on the “opportunities”.
“Thank you for challenging Congress to act on these noncontroversial proposals right away,” the letter stated. “Unfortunately, the Republican majority in the House has failed to pass a single one of these measures, even those introduced by Republicans, and instead has focused on rolling back environmental protections for our nation’s land, water, and wildlife.”
The letter concluded: “In light of the House’s failure to report legislation protecting federal public lands, we encourage you to use the Antiquities Act and protect our country’s most cherished public lands for future generations.”

To read the full article written in the Moapa Valley Progress by Vernon Robison click the following link:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Popsicles & Politics

The other day while I was working at home my daughter came in and asked if she could have a Popsicle. As the temperatures have reached triple digits herein Southern Nevada a popsicle can offer a sweet reprieve from the wicked summer sun. I told her this was no problem and to get one for her brothers as well.  It was only a short time later that she was back and asked for another popsicle. Normally we only let the children have one a day but I was hip deep in the middle of my work and trying to get finished up so out of desperation, I told her that she could have another. As you can guess, it didn’t take long for her to come back and start asking for another popsicle. Again, as I was in the middle of my work and trying to not lose my train of thought I told her yes. It was again but a short time later that she was coming back and again asking for one more.   We were now at least five popsicles into this game when she came for yet another and I finally said okay this is the last one.

If she had straight up asked for all five popsicles at one time I could have easily said no. However spreading out the popsicles over the course of time and asking while I was already engaged so that her request did not get a hold of my full attention she was able to attain more than she normally would have. This is no different than how special interest manipulate the system to achieve their agenda in public lands management.

Case In Point: Red Rock National Conservation Area (NCA)
Originally designated in 1990 [Public Law 101-621] as 85,557 acre National Conservation Area. It was amended in 1994, 1998 and 2002. Since its original designation it has increased in size 134% from 85,557 to 199,818 acres. That is a total of 114,261 additional acres in just over 10 years. Red Rock did not contain any wilderness designations in its enacting legislation. However in 2002 the La Madre Mountain and Rainbow Wilderness areas were created adding over 48,000 acres of wilderness to the Red Rock complex. Since Red Rock NCA was created in 1990 it has also added 77 campground sites, Visitor Centers, Law enforcement building, law enforcement patrols, Fire station complex, parking facilities and more.

In 2002 the Clark County Public Lands Bill created 30,000 acres of wilderness in Gold Butte. This was despite the fact that the wilderness inventory performed in Gold Butte explicitly stated that there were no suitable acres of wilderness in the area. However people were calling, politicians were listening and 30,000 acres were designated as wilderness anyways.  Now these same groups are calling again but to a new crop of politicians, and their request in now 250,000 acres of wilderness and a fancy new label to go on top of it.

Time and time again we are called back to the table and asked once again to compromise on things we have already compromised on. That’s not compromise that is a measured demise. The current proposal related to Gold Butte isn’t about doing what is best for public lands and it is not about compromising to find a balanced solution.  The current proposal without question is about a narrow minded group with a one-sided agenda on the errand of their calculated conquest.  Spread out over time, over many politicians and many pieces of legislation the box of popsicles will in due course be empty.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lets Make a Deal

If I came to you and said, “I have a deal for you. Do you agree to it?”  Your response back to me would be, “What’s the deal.” In reply I say, “We will figure that out as we go. What is important is that you say you agree to the deal. So will you take that first step and agree that we have a deal?” This seems absurd, correct? I couldn’t agree more. Yet this is the current state of play in regards to legislative action concerning Gold Butte.

Let us ignore reality for a moment, and pretend that legislation was the next step in the course of events for Gold Butte. There would need to be a clearly defined plan that addresses specific issues upfront and in the beginning stages of any legislative plan. Some of these include such concerns as a fire management plan, minimizing the negative effects of invasive plant species, properly managing water resources, transportation plan, and a growth model built to appropriately handle an influx of visitors coming for the diverse array of recreational opportunities. How will we adequately meet those needs and what kind of infrastructure will be needed to support it. How much money will come with the new designation and how will it be spent and on what? How many rangers will it take to adequately manage this area and what is the ranger to visitor ratio used to project the future management of the area as its visibility grows. By giving Gold Butte a national designation and elevating its awareness to a larger audience, it becomes not a question of, if more visitors will come, but how many and how quickly will they come.  The new influx of visitors alone would create a whole new set of issues to be addressed not yet facing Gold Butte. Despite this even small subset of questions the current plans, legislation or talks of legislation address none of this.

I point blank asked the lobbyist representing the wilderness interest the question, “What are you trying to accomplish at Gold Butte?”  The response was the same time-worn and ambiguous rhetoric, “Permanent protection for Gold Butte.” That makes for a nice sounds byte but there is more to protection than a label. Protection doesn’t happen with a stroke of a pen in Washington. Protection is brought about with a detailed plan that addresses specific issues and a dedicated group of people committed to that plan. Legislation is not the first step in that plan, it is the last step.

If this was about protection and the long term sustainability of the resources out at Gold Butte then the conversation would focus on those concerns. Not legislating a clearly defined management plan upfront, that addresses as many of the specific issues that face the area as part of the legislation, is a game of chance. People who are willing to take that risk clearly articulate their lack of understanding of the legitimate concerns that face Gold Butte. Their blatant disregard for the current issues and the issues that will be created by putting a gold star on the map for Gold Butte works only to reveal their narrow intent. This isn’t about better public lands management; it is about pushing through a massive wilderness bill.

We need to move the conversation from politics and to better public lands management. This should be about ensuring that my children, the next generation, have the same opportunities to recreate at Gold Butte and see this country as their great grandfathers did and truly enjoy this magnificent piece of public lands responsibly whether that is on a horse, fourwheeler, motorbike, hiking, or solar powered hovercraft when they are invented. It should be about creating recreational opportunities, not limiting them. It should be about educating visitors about the importance of responsible use, not limiting them from use. This should be about identifying the specific threats that face Gold Butte like fires and invasive species and how to limit their effects on the landscape. It should be about properly managing the springs, wildlife and other legitimate biological and environmental threats.

Despite these plain and simple truths the current legislation and plans being pushed for at this point in time do not address any of this. Instead it is focused on who is in congress and how they can be bullied into introducing legislation. This is not a game show and public lands policy should not be about politics.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bundy Ranch

For the last month or so the conversation surrounding Gold Butte has been concentrated around the Bundy Ranch. Recently they have create a site to help consolidate the information and share their side of the story. You can read the articles and contact them by visiting the following link:

Stepping Up

On Saturday March 24, 2012 Partners In Conservation (PIC) and a local Boy Scout partnered together to help improve our local public lands in the Gold Butte area.

As part of the BLM’s plan to provide a better visitor experience to the Gold Butte area information kiosks were to be installed. These kiosks would include such things as a map, rules and regulations and other information that would be useful to those visiting the area. Understanding the importance of community involvement the local BLM office created an opportunity for a local youth to take the final step in his pursuit of the Eagle Scout achievement.

The final project of an Eagle Scout is a tool designed to create an opportunity for the Scout to learn leadership qualities while providing a service to the community. The final project is designed to top off or complete the other attributes learned as the scout progresses through the program and earns merit badges. As the name states, these are badges of merit. The Scouter works and learns important values along their path to the rank of Eagle Scout. As they do so they are presented with a badge to honor these learned traits.

This project presented the scouter not only an opportunity to learn project management, but also the importance of local involvement, community stewardship, hard work and the importance of working together with the government agencies and the community to provide a useful service to the community.

The goal of this project was to replace two of the temporary wooden kiosks that were installed with permanent structures at the most visible sites. One was at the turn off to Gold Butte at the Riverside parking area and the other at Whitney Pockets.

It was the scout’s responsibility to work with the BLM to ensure all the tools and hardware was there to complete the work. It was also the scout’s responsibility to line up the people needed to perform the labor and other project supplies such as food and water for laborers. On Saturday morning at 9:30 everyone showed up and the project commenced without a hitch.

I commend the local BLM office for stepping up and providing an opportunity to engage the community and providing a local scout with the opportunity to take the next step in earning the achievement of Eagle Scout.  I commend PIC in stepping up and working with both the local communities and the BLM to help this project take place. I commend the local scouter in his desire to step up and be an upstanding member of the community and having a strong desire to complete this project and the leadership skills needed to do so.

These are the kinds of projects and the level of support that make our public lands successful and sustainable.  It is examples like this that demonstrate that local public lands management is what will preserve our public lands for the next generation. No designation, mark on a map, added layer of management or act of congress can manufacture or account for genuine community stewardship.  In actuality these added layers of bureaucracy hurt our public lands. It denies them proper local management as well as breaking the bond of local stewardship.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Introductions

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Congressman Joe Heck, Nevada State Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, Nevada State Senator Joe Hardy, members of the community and a special interest group to discuss Gold Butte politics. Most of the faces were the familiar and the agenda was the standard affair. Despite the repetitive nature of these meetings there is one part that I always look forward to, the introductions. This is when we go around the table and state our name and for many, it is a time to recite their genealogical connection to Gold Butte. I love this because it exhibits the pride and sense of community that locals take in Gold Butte.

Some, at the table roll their eyes, as locals relate stories about trips out with their grandpa or get lost counting how many great-greats it was when their family first came into this country. These stories are told not to elevate the local status above the group or suppose that our opinion is more valid for this single reason. Members of the community who have long standing lineage at Gold Butte understand that we are not entitled to anything more than anyone else because we have seniority. What we are is proud of our heritage and the lessons and love that have been passed down through the generations for the piece of God’s country called Gold Butte. It is that love that makes us passionate and protective of Gold Butte.

The politics in regards to Gold Butte, best described as a distraction, are often oversimplified to access versus protection. With this over simplification it is easy to pose legislation as the simple solution. This is a detriment to Gold Butte and plays handily into a narrow agenda. The reality is that there are specific projects that can be done to help improve the visitor experience and protect the cultural resources that don’t require legislative action. Quite simply none of the projects that need to be done at Gold Butte need congressional action. They can and are being accomplished on a community level with the local managing agency partnered with the community. If we look to ourselves instead of Washington for answers we will find them. The very people sitting around the table who take pride and ownership of Gold Butte will be the solution to a sustainable Gold Butte.

The question was posed, I don’t know if we can always count on that level of commitment by the community. I handily disagree with that statement as I am proudly raising five children who are learning the same love and appreciation for Gold Butte as my parents and grandparents taught me and I know many other parents doing the same. In response I asked, where are you going to place your bet, your children or the federal government to save Gold Butte?

Who better to have as the active stewards of Gold Butte than those who have watched generations in their family care for this piece of country out of love, as opposed to politics? We know that it’s not a locals only spot anymore, regrettable nevertheless reality, however we also have a deep knowledge and understanding of the area and a desire to maintain the place we have loved and lived so that we may pass it on to our children. It is the partnerships between the managing agencies and an engaged community that will save Gold Butte for the next generation, not legislation.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gold Butte Backcountry Byway

I posted some pictures, history and maps about the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway on Rambler. Now is the time of year to be out and about enjoying our beautiful Backcountry:

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Story of Mining in Gold Butte

Gold Butte offers a variety of sights and features that appeal to a wide and diverse audience. There are the geologic features that are as impressive and magnificent as anywhere and cultural resources that will get any history enthusiast out of the library and ready to exploration. There are early Native American sites scattered throughout this rough country, remnants of the early Spanish explorers hidden amongst the hills and traces of the early pioneer settlement in this rough and colorful country. There is appeal for every visitor.

One of the biggest chapters in the story of Gold Butte is where the stories of the Cultural and geologic lines intersect to tell the story of mining in Gold Butte.

Mining has played an important role in the history and development of the area now known as Gold Butte. For the early inhabitants it was a source of goods to trade amongst other tribes throughout the west. Turquoise, obsidian and other metals have been found in the Lost City dwellings and other sites throughout the area which were used to barter for other goods. The salt deposits along the Virgin River, now covered by Lake Mead, also provided salt for the local people as well as another resource for trade.

As Time moved forward other explorers came into this area in their quest for treasure. The signs of the Spanish Explorers and their new mining practices can still be seen throughout the Gold Butte country. The Spanish arista were an early mining technique to spate the rock and the ore to get the precious metals hidden within. The circular relics etched into the rock are evidence of the early explorers and their determination.

The pioneer settlement of this area began in the mid-19th century. Early Mormon settlers came to the confluence of the Virgin and Muddy Rivers to build the town of St. Thomas. The early life of these Mormon settlers was that of hardship but after a few hiccups and a resettlement after a dispute over which state the town actually resided in for taxation, the area began to flourish.   St. Thomas soon became the hub of the area. Settlement expanded and the business enterprises that follow soon began to spread over this country. The proximity to the Colorado River, Spanish Trail and the eventual spur off the Los Angles & Salt Lake Railroad contributed to this little town’s development.

With the ability to transport commodities through a variety of ways mining, farming and ranching soon began to spread over this promising desert. The growth and development of Gold Butte during this time was directly tied with the early pioneer settlements of St. Thomas and the services it provided. The railroad provided the ability to transport ore, equipment and other necessities to the growing mining camps and emerging ranches.

The rich historical landscape that persists in the Gold Butte country today is inextricably tied with this history of mining throughout the stage of development. Each period has brought its own character, stories and left its legends. One is not more important than the other and all have contributed to the rich history that makes Gold Butte the place we all love.

Please join us on March 3rd, 2012 at St. Thomas for a community celebration as we bring this historic town alive for a day. We will have many of the descendants of those early pioneers as well as those who remember visiting St. Thomas there to reconnect. There will be music and dramatizations of the early days being performed live, where they would have been performed then, at the old St. Thomas School. There will be maps and historical displays as well as pictures taken in the early days displayed where they were taken to help visualize the then, now. If you have history or stories please contact me so we can share and make the most of your stories to help bring St. Thomas alive and reconnect his landscape to its history.

As parking space is limited, and a four-wheel drive is required, if you plan to attend please carpool with your neighbors so we can have room for as many as want to attend. We are hoping to have at least 6 to a vehicle.

Please visit for more information

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gold Butte Recreational Analysis

The Moapa Valley Progress has written an excellent article on the BLM’s effort to work on the Recreational Analysis for the Gold Butte area. The article can be read at the following link:

The objective of the Recreational Analysis, as I understand it, is to identify what different activities people do within the Gold Butte area. With this data they can better manage the area and accommodate the various uses within the region.

I have contacted the local BLM office to get more information available and more widely accessible so we can engage a larger audience in the effort to better manage the Gold Butte area. As more data and links become available I will post them here.

There will be a series of public meetings held in the surrounding communities in March and April.