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.