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February 8, 2010

Red Rocks from an airplane
Red Rocks from 10,000 feet up © Kurt Kuznicki

Waiting for a jet plane

Thinking about the power of volunteers

There is nothing like sitting in an airport for a couple of hours to give you time to think. As I watched the hustle and bustle of the busy airport, I was reminded about all the work there is to do in southern Nevada. I started to think about the ancient bristlecone pines that are being destroyed up in the Mt Charleston wilderness through thoughtlessness and ignorance. My mind wandered to the countless switchback cuts on the South Loop Trail that are damaging one of the key routes to Mt. Charleston. I thought about the countless OHV trespasses that are devastating the landscape and wildlife habitat of the South McCullough Wilderness and wilderness areas all over southern Nevada.

Just as I was about to freak out, I remembered ... Hey, I'm not alone ... I have folks like you. Whew!

That's right; there are some great folks in southern Nevada who genuinely care, and, together, we cannot fail. We have the opportunity in southern Nevada to really make a difference for the wild. I can't do it alone; you can't do it alone, and the wild places can't do it without us.

Wilderness always needs volunteers for stewardship projects, but Wilderness needs volunteers with different skill sets, too. Wilderness needs folks to plan events, table at events, give presentations, folks with office skills and just about everything else under the southern Nevada sun. If you can volunteer, even for just an hour or two, you can make a difference for generations to come. Do you have a special talent you would like volunteer for the wild places? Please give me a call...

By the way, thinking of all that you do for southern Nevada's wilderness changed my trip home from a worry-fest to a great flight filled with hope. Thank you!

To volunteer, please give Kurt Kuznicki a call at
(775) 745-3119

For Nevada wilderness,
Kurt Kuznicki

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In-town volunteer positions

Your small investment of time will pay off

Friends of Nevada Wilderness needs your help — in town, too. Your efforts around town will help southern Nevada wilderness in many ways, and your small investment of time will pay off with better protection for and more restoration of the wild places within a couple hours drive of Las Vegas. Your work will not only be appreciated by Friends it also will leave a lasting legacy for the land. Plus it's fun!

Call Kurt at (775) 745-3119 or send him an email. Thanks.

Office Volunteer

Simple data entry, deliver outreach materials around town. Post office pickup & delivery. Can be as little as 1 or 2 hours per week.

Event Planner

Help plan upcoming volunteer events and parties.

Outreach Volunteers

Folks to help table at different events around town 1 or 2 days a month.

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Starry sky
Starry sky © Brian Beffort

It was a good week for stars

By Kate Prengaman

August: Notes from camping in the Big Rocks Wilderness, Lincoln County, Nevada.

I believe that star-gazing is good for the soul. Maybe it's just my soul, but feeling like a tiny speck on a tiny planet beneath a sparkling, infinite sky can heal most of what ails me. It's calming, inspiring, a way to feel connected to a world larger than I can really know. And while you can do almost anything in Vegas, you really can't star-gaze. The shine of the Strip and the sprawling lights of suburbia are so bright that even on a good night, you'll never see more than a handful of stars. To really appreciate the rest of the universe, you've got to head for the hills.

Nevada's wilderness can be an excellent place to star gaze. It's easy to find campsites with a good view of wide sky, since we don't have the continuous, dense canopies of deciduous forests. In our dry climate, it's rare to have low-hanging clouds ruin your view. There are few mosquitoes and low odds for a sudden rain storm, so you don't really need to hide from the elements in your tent. With so many protected wilderness areas, we still have plenty of places that are well beyond the glow of towns and cities. Head out on a camping trip with a constellation chart and some patience, and you could see more constellations than you ever knew existed. And those are just the stationary stars. While you are mapping out those Greek gods, you'll undoubtedly catch a few flashing meteors.

Seeing a good shooting star makes you feel special. Good luck, make a wish, etc... But as it turns out, there are millions of meteors flashing across the sky, throughout the day and night, caused usually by sand-sized grains of astronomical grit, burning up with friction through the air molecules of the atmosphere. According to, we can usually only see .005% of the sky at one time, bringing our eye's share of shooting stars to an average of 12 per hour. If you are watching with constant vigilance. For the casual, fire-side star-gazer, catching a few big, brilliant ones is cause for celebration. Until I started spending my summers sleeping without a tent in Nevada's wilderness, I saw only a few shooting stars a year. Now I see a few a night.

In August, I was camped out in the Big Rocks Wilderness in Lincoln County. As I lay in my sleeping bag, dwarfed by the boulders of Pahroc Canyon, the milky way was shining clear. July's monsoon clouds had cleared, the half-moon rose late, and the high canyon walls block any faint light pollution from spoiling the view. In the hour or so before I'd drifted to sleep, I usually saw more than 15 shooting stars, big sweeping flashes across the sky. Sleeping out every night in the desert, I am used to seeing a few before I close my eyes, but this show was above and beyond. I later found out that the Earth was passing through the Perseid Meteor Shower, an annual rotation through a cloud of debris that usually occurs in mid-august and provides a spectacular sky show.

The next night, the sky-show got even better. A big electrical storm hung over the Delmar Valley to the south of us. We could barely hear the thunder, but the sky flashed and glowed with lightning strikes every minute or two. Far enough away to be free from the fears of rain (and putting up a tent in a wet, 2am panic) and lightning-strike fire, we just enjoyed the light-show. Shooting stars dove across the sky into the huge cloud of flashing light and got swallow by the storm. A show so good it was hard to close my eyes.


Kate Prengaman is a Field Botanist with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who also writes and volunteers for Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

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Volunteer crew for a Spring Mountains cleanup trip
Volunteer crew for a Spring Mountains cleanup trip © Kurt Kuznicki

Hanging out in Lovell Canyon

Great southern Nevada volunteers making a difference

Friends of Nevada Wilderness' volunteers have been working hard to improve the wilderness quality of the Rainbow Mountain and La Madre Mountain Wilderness though cleanups and restoration projects. Here are a few photos of the fun that volunteers had in January.

These volunteers completed a significant restoration project in the Spring Mountains
These volunteers completed a significant restoration project in the Spring Mountains © Kurt Kuznicki


A sample of the bounty of trash volunteers harvested from the Lovell Canyon area
A sample of the bounty of trash volunteers harvested from the Lovell Canyon area © Kurt Kuznicki


Wilderness stewardship "A-Team" volunteers and their tools
Wilderness stewardship "A-Team" volunteers and their tools © Kurt Kuznicki


Volunteer group photo on a Lovell Canyon cleanup trip
Volunteer group photo on a Lovell Canyon cleanup trip © Kurt Kuznicki

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Wild things to do

Snowshoe hikes offered on Mt Charleston

Don't let a little snow get in the way of going for a hike at Mt. Charleston. Join an interpretive naturalist who will outfit you with snowshoes and lead you on a trip to discover the wonders of a snow-covered forest. While hiking approximately one mile on a trail that is rated easy-to-moderate, participants will experience the snow while discovering how the plants and animals survive the cold.

Participants should wear clothing that protects their heads, hands and feet from snow, cold and wind. These interpretive walks are provided on weekends all winter for individuals, families and groups. Arrangements for special groups can be made for weekdays. For details and reservations call the SMNRA Education Department at: (702) 839-5566.

Walks and other programs are provided year-round at no charge by the US Forest Service through a partnership with the Great Basin Institute.

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Upcoming volunteer projects and events

In February, volunteers with Friends of Nevada Wilderness will return to the Lovell Canyon area (west side of the Spring Mountains) for two route-restoration projects.

Then, March brings an opportunity for our volunteers to repair an exclosure fence in the Mud Spring area. This work will make the fence more "wildlife friendly."

Click the links to find out more.


Saturday, February 20, 2010   Lovell Canyon route restoration

Stewardship — restore the wild character of user-created routes and former roads in the Lovell Canyon area near Mountain Springs. Details


Saturday, February 27, 2010   Lovell Canyon route restoration

Stewardship — restore the wild character of user-created routes and former roads in the Lovell Canyon area near Mountain Springs. Details


Saturday, March 20, 2010   Mud Spring fence repair

Stewardship — replace some of the barbed wire on the Mud Spring exclosure with a slick stand of wire to create a more wildlife-friendly fence. Details


Many trips through the year are listed at Friends' website. If you want to help keep these great opportunities coming, please click the button to donate:

Visit our website's TAKE ACTION pages for other ways to get involved with Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

Funding from these great organizations helps support Friends of Nevada Wilderness' efforts to protect wilderness and engage volunteers in southern Nevada.

Conservation District of Southern Nevada logo
Conservation District of Southern Nevada

REI logo
REI grants



Friends of the Forest logo
National Forest Foundation

Mt Charleston licenseplate logo
Mt Charleston License Plate Grant

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