The Wilderness Act, signed into law on September 3, 1964, has created 70 Wilderness areas in Nevada that include ecosystems ranging from lower sagebrush steppes and the Mojave Desert to high alpine areas and Bristlecone-dotted ridgelines. And the very best part of these magnificent Wilderness areas? They belong to you! Designated Wilderness is part of your public lands system, so all Americans have the opportunity to visit these areas and soak in their natural beauty. Let’s take a look back in time to better understand the impact of this bedrock conservation law and appreciate how it has protected the places in Nevada we love, for many generations to come.
On September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. The long-awaited realization of Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society, and so many more, finally made a lasting stamp on American ideology as the Wilderness Act permanently redefined the future of American growth and development. This important piece of legislation defined wilderness as "an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." A concept of environmental awareness and man's responsibility to the land that gives him life, was solidified and became a platform for conservation efforts on behalf of groups like ours all those decades ago. Today, Nevada boasts 70 Wilderness Areas.
The words and sentiments that embody the Wilderness Act, although 53 years old, are just as valid today - perhaps even more so. Here's why.
The cost to enter the 13 mile scenic loop at Red Rock National Conservation Area and other associated sites may see its first increase since 2011. But first, The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public opinion for these proposed amenity fee increases which are aimed to cover "preservation, recreation, public enjoyment and visitor experience management goals". The public is invited to weigh in on these proposed increases and, don't worry, there are several ways to get involved.
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge is a hidden gem sprawled across 1.6 million acres of the Southern Nevada landscape. Located just 25 miles northwest of downtown Las Vegas, the Desert Refuge provides hiking, birding, hunting, horseback riding, Jeeping adventures, backpacking, and camping activities on fee-free public land. Sounds great, right?
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's long awaited visit to Nevada's National Monuments was cut short in lieu of an emergency cabinet meeting. A Monday meeting was previously scheduled between the Secretary and his staff and public lands advocates which included elected officials, Tribal members, business and community leaders. This meeting, however, was abruptly cancelled in light of a Washington DC shake up. Unfortunately, public land advocates did not get the chance we desperately wanted to dialogue with Secretary Zinke in favor of Basin & Range and Gold Butte National Monuments. But we are a resilient bunch! A last minute press conference was held to address the community's concerns with Secretary Zinke's modified visit to Nevada.
President Donald Trump’s call for a presidential review of National Monuments united millions of outdoor enthusiasts in support of our protected public lands. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is tasked with providing the President with recommendations on the 27 National Monuments under review. Secretary Zinke may recommend that these National Monuments may be left as they are, have their borders reduced, or the designation rescinded in the forthcoming months. The first portion of this process, the public comment period, is now over. Thankfully, over 2.7 million comments were submitted in support of America’s National Monuments! However, we need to keep the pressure on the Department of the Interior and remind them that Nevadans love our national monuments!
Concern is mounting after President Donald Trump’s Executive Order to review all National Monuments designated after January 1st 1996. This review includes Nevada's Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments. Following the Executive Order, the Department of the Interior opened a comment period to invite the public to weigh in on these 27 national monuments under review. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is tasked with reviewing these comments, visiting with local government officials and other stakeholders, and touring the national monument lands. This past week, Secretary Zinke visited Nevada - not to meet with local stakeholders but to hold a closed door meeting in Lake Tahoe and a press only event in Pahrump. Nevadans showed up at both events to let him know that we love our public lands and National Monuments!
Not too far from the fascinating neon lights, celebrity titled marquees, and rhythmic tones of coin filled slot machines, you will find the Spring Mountains and Mt. Charleston wilderness. The 45 minute driving distance can seem a world away as you take in the majestic scenery along the trails and designated wilderness areas found in Kyle and Lee Canyons. There is no mystery to why so many visitors come to enjoy this wooded oasis nestled above the Southern Nevada desert. Of course, with the heavy number of visitors, this special place requires lots of attention. This week, Aria Hotel + Casino joined us in Mt. Charleston to help maintain the trails!
Last weekend on a sweltering Saturday morning, hundreds of people gathered outside of REI Boca Park in Las Vegas for a morning of shopping. The occasion was the seasonal REI Garage Sale, an REI Co-Op member sales event where pre-owned clothing and equipment can be purchased at lower prices. With crowds arriving two hours before doors open and customers entering the building in numbered groups, this was a great opportunity for Friends of Nevada Wilderness and other non-profit organizations to engage wilderness and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
Every year on the first Saturday of June, hiking enthusiasts from across the country celebrate National Trails Day. The designated holiday gives organizations and individuals the opportunity to connect with local trails, raise awareness of trail issues, and enjoy time in nature. Friends of Nevada Wilderness' southern Nevada volunteers spent National Trails Day in Mt. Charleston Wilderness to complete much needed trail work on the popular Trail Canyon.