|City Of Mesquite Supports Gold Butte NCA|
|By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
Published Nov. 4, 2009
In an unexpected move last week, the Mesquite City Council approved a resolution that supported legislative designation of the Gold Butte area as a National Conservation Area (NCA) with Wilderness.
The resolution, which was passed unanimously at a meeting on Tuesday, October 27, urges Congress “to enact these designations and mandate that an effective management plan be implemented that secures the interests of neighboring jurisdictions.”
“The council’s resolution will help lead to economic benefits for our community, conservation of an important wildlife area, and help safeguard it for coming generations,” said Friends of Gold Butte president Nancy Hall.
Friends of Gold Butte is a non-profit citizens’ conservation group working to preserve and protect the historic, prehistoric and natural resources of the Gold Butte area. Hall worked closely with the city in drafting the resolution.
The resolution came as a surprise to many leaders of the surrounding rural townships in northeast Clark County. “I didn’t have a clue about this,” said Bunkerville Town Advisory Board (BTAB) Chairman Brian Haviland. “I thought that we had an agreement with Mesquite that we discuss anything that came up that affected us both. But we were kind of blindsided by this one.”
In August, the BTAB sent a formal letter to Rep. Dina Titus opposing the establishment of a Gold Butte NCA. The letter pointed out that the vast area was designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in 1999 and that this management model was supposed to have a plan life of 20 years. It urged that the current plan be allowed to run its course.
“A lot of work has been done and progress made in a cooperative effort between BLM and the public,” said Bunkerville resident Don Paff who has served as an ad hoc advisor to the BTAB on Gold Butte. “Stopping that action now would disturb the current process that we have all contributed to; the roads designation, environmental studies etc.”
“An NCA would start an entirely new process,” Paff continued. “One that would, in many ways, be redundant of what we are already doing at an enormous additional cost.”
Earlier last summer, the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board (MVTAB) also sent a letter of its own to Titus regarding Gold Butte. This letter expressed general opposition to an NCA designation, but also expressed a willingness to participate in an open process to determine the future of the region.
In last week’s MVTAB meeting, Board member Judy Metz expressed frustration with the Mesquite City Council’s unexpected action. “We have sought an open process,” Metz said. “We have tried to meet with all sides and have heard no answer from these other groups. And yet still these actions come from out of the blue like this. If they are so interested, as they say, in ’securing the interests of neighboring jurisdictions’ we would have liked to have been consulted on this.”
“My concern is simply that this process be transparent and open to the public,” said MVTAB Chairman Gene Houston. “All stakeholders should have a chance to give input. Too often these management plans have boiled down to ‘We just don’t have the money to manage it so we’ll just shut it down’. We’ve seen that again and again. That is my concern with this.”
Representatives from Titus’ Washington, D.C. office stated that the Congresswoman was also interested in an open process. “We appreciate all the input we have received from the various stakeholders thus far,” said Titus’ press secretary Andrew Stoddard in an interview. “We understand the importance of this issue to the residents of the area. Rep. Titus wants to bring all the stakeholders to the table to have a voice in the course of action moving forward.”
Stoddard added that Titus had no immediate plans to introduce specific legislation on Gold Butte at this point in time. “But it is certainly an issue that we are paying close attention to and moving forward with it,” he said.