Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What About Gold Butte?

So how about that Gold Butte? Wait... Where??!! Come on, you don't know Gold Butte? It's an amazing stretch of colorful land, flora, and fauna just south of Mesquite along I-15. And sadly, it's being torn to shreds as we speak.

Gold Butte is situated between our rapidly expanding greater metropolis of Las Vegas and the rapidly expanding cities of Mesquite and St. George, Utah. Development is starting to encroach on the north side. Visitors come from all around to ride ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), often off road and cutting into the vegetation. Vandals take chunks out of ancient Native American petroglyphs, and often replace them with nasty graffiti.

Now, more than ever, Gold Butte needs to be protected. Today, the Clark County Commission will decide whether to support a resolution urging Congress to designate Gold Butte as a National Conservation Area (NCA) and official federally protected Wilderness.

The Clark County Commission could decide today whether to support federal efforts to preserve hundreds of thousands of acres of Nevada wilderness.

It’s a proposal that has proponents jubilant over the possibility of protecting fragile land and opponents angry over potentially losing treasured hunting and four-wheeling territory. [...]

Of the proposed 345,000-acre Gold Butte National Conservation Area, 132,000 acres would be designated as wilderness. Typically only foot access is allowed into federal wilderness areas. [...]

The massive chunk of land is mostly isolated from Las Vegas by Lake Mead. But growth in Mesquite, on the northern boundary of the area, has put pressure on the land.

More people have spilled into the area and damaged it by off-roading on hillsides and shooting, including at some of the ancient petroglyphs, Terri Robertson said.

Robertson is one of the 300 members of Friends of Gold Butte who supports the county resolution asking for a federal conservation area designation. She knows the area well, having taken her first trips into Gold Butte with her father, who was born in Mesquite in 1902.

The conservation-area moniker would put the land on the same footing for federal funding as national parks, she said. “And we need a park ranger out there full-time.”

This is why we need to speak out in support of Gold Butte. Reno & Its Discontents' blogger-superstar Tacy Viselli has written a Care2 page in support of Gold Butte, highlighting what we can do to help save it. Friends of Nevada Wilderness also have more on what we can do to help.

The Las Vegas Poppy. The endangered Desert Tortoise. Artifacts from ancient civilization. Sandstone cliffs. These are just a few of the many treasures we can find at Gold Butte. However, action must be taken soon before we lose it forever.

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