Thursday, January 31, 2013
Gold Butte is awash with beauty, culture, vegetation and animal life. It is evidence of the shared struggle
between plant, animal and human life for survival in an unforgiving landscape. For those who have
seen the interplay of life and landscape, who have looked deeper into the recesses of the canyons and
histories, come away as a consequence understanding what makes Gold Butte captivating.
I can be to the top of Virgin Mountain drinking fresh cool water seeping from the cracks at the top of the
peak, to a low desert Joshua Tree forest and then on to a basin filled with cedar trees and then, if I am
ambitious and have enough fuel, on down to Lake Mead or the Colorado River. Along the way I can see
petroglyphs, Spanish Aristas, mines, corrals, windmills, sink holes, caves, springs and a variety of wildlife.
With such a variety of history present upon this rugged landscape, are any one of these represented
periods of history and their record upon the landscape more valued than another? The importance of all
the cultural sites entwined upon one landscape composes the complete history of that place. Regardless
of personal favorites and the ranked value you impose on a particular location, the fact remains there is
intrinsic value in a whole history.
Today there is a demanding conformity to which our public lands are being boxed in and packaged to
grease the wheels of bureaucracy. This conformity is pushed ironically by those who eventually will
not tolerate others, who once tolerated them, within a multiple-use landscape. The scope of public
lands management has become to simply label and categorize public lands into a narrow and one
sided picture. This is done at the incalculable cost of neglecting and erasing the few remaining traces of
history and the access to these sites.
With each aspect of public lands that is lost, the dimension of our landscape begins to flatten. Eventually
all we will be left with is a one dimensional image that you literally can only visit by looking through
photographs. There needs to be a wide and tolerant view of what our public lands are, have been and
what we want them to be for the next generation; a vibrant, historically rich landscape which is, in every
sense of the definition, a multiple-use landscape.