My life’s journey has taken me to places I never imagined. I was born in a rural village in the state of Guanajuato, México. At the age of eight, I began the backbreaking work of a migrant worker.
Riding in the back of a pickup truck early in the morning on the way to a job site, I remember looking out through the slats and seeing the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I wondered what it would be like to touch those beautiful mountains. Compared to the miserable migrant camps where I lived, I thought that the Sierra Nevada must be what heaven is like.
Against all odds, I went from being a migrant farm worker to graduating from high school, to working as a salesman, to getting my first job at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in 1984. This was where I found my life’s work: helping to manage America’s public lands. I served at the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for 30 years and ended my career in Utah as the BLM’s State Director.
I’m still passionate about raising awareness of the opportunities we have to protect and care for our public lands. I am particularly excited about a bill authored by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Representative Dina Titus: the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act. This legislation is the largest conservation bill in Nevada’s history and would protect over two million acres of public lands.
Help us celebrate as Wilderness designation for the Desert National Wildlife Refuge is one step closer to reality!
The Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act - the largest conservation bill in the history of Nevada - was heard in the Senate on June 16! This landmark legislation was introduced in Congress by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Representative Dina Titus, and would designate 2 million conservation acres from #RedRockToTheRefuge, including more than 1.3 million acres of Wilderness in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, keeping the Refuge safe from further military incursion. Protecting the refuge as Wilderness has been a high priority for Friends since its recommendation in 1971 - in fact, our Board Chair Dr. Roger Scholl testified in support 50 years ago.
Stewardship is back in full swing! In southern Nevada, we kicked things off with a busy Earth Week. Here’s what we were up to:
The 2021 Nevada State Legislative session is in full swing and there are numerous bills and resolutions moving that you should be aware of as Wilderness advocates. Friends of Nevada Wilderness recommends that you support the following bills by submitting comments online. Submitting your public opinion will let elected officials know how the conservation community feels about the bills they will have to vote for or against. Just follow the link to the opinion section of the legislature's website and type in the bill number and check support and add any comments you want.
Take Action - Help Us Celebrate and say “Thank You!”
The largest conservation bill in the history of Nevada has just been introduced in Congress by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Representative Dina Titus! Most importantly, the bill would designate more than 1.3 million acres of Wilderness in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, keeping the Refuge safe from military expansion! Protecting the refuge has been the #1 priority at Friends and something we’ve been working on for many years.
It would also expand the Red Rock NCA by over 50,000 acres. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating this major milestone and thanking Senator Cortez Masto, Representative Titus, and the entire bipartisan Nevada delegation who support it! We will be working even harder in the coming months to make sure this bill gets passed – and makes history! Hooray!!!
The Nevada Divisions of Outdoor Recreation and State Parks has announced the release of a public survey on outdoor recreation in Nevada. The survey is part of the federally required Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), which is updated every five years. This plan establishes criteria for funding outdoor recreation projects in Nevada, through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program, and guides outdoor recreation development over the next five years. Public input is critical for creating a comprehensive plan that addresses the outdoor recreation needs of all Nevadans.
Grace and the Springs Team (Tara, and Tali and myself) joined forces last week for a combined Wilderness Monitoring/spring surveying trip in the Wee Thump, South McCullough, and New York Mountains areas. These areas are surrounded by Lands with Wilderness Characteristics that we hope will one day receive Wilderness protection, so it’s important to keep track of their condition.
The Spring Stewardship Team kicked off their volunteer spring monitoring program on January 6th with a virtual volunteer training. We had an overwhelming response and turnout! More than 100 people tuned in, including 50 new volunteers to Friends of Nevada Wilderness! It was amazing to see such a strong show of support for the new program. We covered background about springs, how to collect and submit data, staying safe in the field, and the next steps for volunteers.
We were very impressed with how much the attendees participated and asked great questions! Volunteers who attended the training will be able to independently collect valuable springs data on Clark County public lands whenever they want with this safe, contact-free opportunity.
The first good news of 2021 is already in the books. The Senate voted 81-13 on New Year's Day to override a presidential veto of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We are happy to see this turn of events. After President Trump vetoed the NDAA on December 23, many of us were concerned. The NDAA includes language that maintains both the Fallon Naval Air Station and the Nellis Test and Training Range at their current size for the next 25 years, stalling the military takeover of public lands in Nevada.
This was the first time Congress has successfully overridden a veto during the current administration. And their timing couldn't be more perfect for the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The Air Force's proposed expansion would have been detrimental to wildlife, like the desert bighorn sheep, who call the refuge home. The Air Force will continue their plan of bombing our beloved Desert Refuge unless wilderness protections are granted as we have proposed. We will continue this campaign to protect the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and we look forward to you joining with us. Stay tuned to the Friends website and channels for updates. #DontBombTheBighorn