|Making the case for Gold Butte|
|Written by Wild Nevada|
|Monday, 11 June 2012 11:51|
Jeneane Harter, NWP's executive director, made the case for making Gold Butte in southern Nevada at National Conservation Area with Wilderness in Sunday's Reno Gazette-Journal.
Since the newspaper recently erected a subscription paywall, you may not be able to read the whole piece online. Luckily, Jeneane gave us a copy and we reproduce it here in full.
Actually, this is the "director's cut" that includes sections that had to be trimmed in order to make it fit on the Gazette-Journal's Op-Ed page. We've also added few links if you want to write your Congressman or read more about why Gold Butte makes sense as a National Conservation Area with Wilderness.
It’s time for Congress to make Gold Butte a National Conservation Area with WildernessBy Jeneane Harter
A new survey of registered voters in Clark County released late last month showed very powerful support for the creation of a new National Conservation Area in Nevada. The proposed Gold Butte NCA, which would include some wilderness areas, would permanently protect 300,000 acres of spectacular desert lands commonly known as Nevada’s piece of the Grand Canyon puzzle.
The Gold Butte complex is rich in archeological, cultural and biological resources, including thousands of Native American petroglyphs, mining era artifacts, the Las Vegas poppy, desert bighorn sheep and the federally endangered desert tortoise. Its dramatic geologic formations include slot canyons, stunning red rock cliffs, countless canyons and washes draining into the Colorado River.
Northern Nevadans may not have heard much about Gold Butte, but creating a national conservation area with wilderness there could have a big impact on the state’s overall economy. As the survey released last month in Las Vegas showed, Las Vegas often serves as a gateway to the American West for international tourists, and the top stops on their itinerary include the natural wonders of the West – the Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and so on. When you add Gold Butte to that list – and a National Conservation Area with Wilderness designation puts Gold Butte on a very selective list – we give Nevada visitors yet another reason to linger in the Silver State. Many will fly north to see that other natural wonder, Lake Tahoe, or hike on the Tahoe Rim Trail or explore some of the other natural attraction of the Silver State and many will stay in Reno.
This is why a long list of businesses from both northern and southern Nevada have signed on to support Gold Butte as an NCA, including the Nevada Resort Association and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
When we create a Gold Butte National Conservation Area with Wilderness, we show that we mean business about protecting our natural assets as a state. Gold Butte today suffers from misuse, but creating an NCA with wilderness makes the area eligible for federal funding as part of the National Landscape Conservation System. Traditional uses will continue – the 500 miles of roads used by off-highway enthusiasts would remain open, for instance – but Gold Butte will occupy a special place on the map and studies have shown Nevada will benefit through more jobs, improved property values and a heartier tourist industry.
The survey of Clark County voters showed they favored protecting additional public lands in Nevada as wilderness by a better than 2-to-1 margin, and 66 percent favored making Gold Butte a National Conservation Area. The NCA proposal for Gold Butte is popular among men and women of all ages throughout the county. Democrats and Republicans. Hunters, hikers, campers, mountain bikers and off-road enthusiasts. Everybody likes the idea. Voters who occasionally or frequently use Nevada public lands for off-road vehicle recreation activities – typically a group that doesn’t favor wilderness proposals – were especially in favor of the Gold Butte National Conservation Area with Wilderness idea, with 73 percent saying they supported it.
You have to wonder at this point what Nevada’s Congressional delegation is waiting for.
Legislation for making Gold Butte a National Conservation Area with Wilderness is in the hands of Rep. Joe Heck, whose district includes Gold Butte. Heck has discussed the proposal with local interests but hasn’t come forward yet with a bill. He needs to do that immediately.
Although the Gold Butte NCA with Wilderness idea still has opposition from a handful of people in Mesquite and Moapa Valley, Rep. Heck must have made note of one finding from the survey: When asked if they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the Gold Butte proposal, two-thirds of the voters surveyed said they would support that candidate.
Are you listening, Congressman?