|It is a critical time for Gold Butte legislation|
|Written by Wild Nevada|
|Monday, 23 April 2012 08:39|
The Mesquite City Council Tuesday is scheduled to reconsider its two-year-old resolution favoring protection for the Gold Butte area, and we will be on hand to convince them to keep the statement just the way it is.
Mesquite’s “Resolution No. 669,” asks Congress to declare Gold Butte a National Conservation Area instead of leaving it as an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern.” NCAs provide a higher level of protection than an ACEC.
Gold Butte, located northeast of Las Vegas, is a 350,000-acre region of rare geologic formations, prehistoric rock art, historical mining districts and sensitive wildlife habitat for desert tortoise and dozens of other plant and animal species. The area contains two small areas of designated wilderness – Lime Canyon and Jumbo Springs – but there are large tracts of sensitive land that also deserve protection before their biological, cultural, scenic and historical qualities are compromised or lost. These areas including Billy Goat Peak, the Million Hills Wilderness Study Area, Black Ridge, North Bitter Ridge, the Scanlon Wash and Twin Springs Wilderness in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Protecting Gold Butte is not just good for wildlife and the environment, it’s also good for the Southern Nevada economy. Nevada’s public lands are valuable resources that offer outstanding recreation, including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and a lot more. Studies have shown that Western counties with protected public lands have greater success at attracting new business, new residents and tourists than regions without conservation areas or national monuments. These protected areas also help maintain property values.
Susan Holecheck, who was mayor of Mesquite when the resolution was adopted in May 2010, reminded Mesquite council members of all this last week during a technical review meeting on the issue.
“Help us to preserve not only our cultural heritage but to also help us now in these times to look for economic advantages which statistically can be proven come to neighboring cities close to NCAs,” Holecheck, who know works with us on promoting federal legislation to make Gold Butte a National Conservation Area with Wilderness, was quoted saying in the Mesquite Citizen.
We keep inching close to getting the National Conservation Area. Gold Butte was among the 18 backcountry areas that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently highlight as deserving protection by Congress as national conservation areas or wilderness areas. U. S. Rep. Joe Heck, whose district includes Gold Butte, has met with various groups in Mesquite to discuss Gold Butte legislation. NCA opponents largely refused to budge or negotiate, something even their supporters say doesn’t make much sense.
Mesquite’s attempt to revisit its support of Gold Butte doesn’t make a lot of sense for this community either. If Gold Butte were made a National Conservation Area with Wilderness, the community would benefit from the tourists who would arrive to enjoy the area. These are people who would stop in town, stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and buy hiking boots in local stores. This kind of impact has been well-documented.
Just as well-documented is the reassurance that NCA legislation would be tailored to the community; there is no truth to the suggestion that Gold Butte would be “locked up.” In fact, not a single mile of the 500 miles of roads in Gold Butte would be closed.
If you want to weigh in on this issue, you have a couple of opportunities:
1. You can write to the mayor and city council of Mesquite and ask them to work harder to protect Gold Butte rather than wasting time undercutting the NCA effort.
2. You can write to Rep. Joe Heck and ask him to step up and introduce federal legislation.
3. Attend the meeting. Here are details on when and where.