I have been a Moapa Valley resident for nearly twenty years and I feel I know the culture and pulse of the valley fairly well. I love this community and appreciate the people and personalities that make it unique. I don’t always agree with the mainstream valley philosophy, but I do understand that people are intelligent and free to have their own opinions. Having said that, I feel compelled to weigh in on the subject of Gold Butte National Monument.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know that our newest national monument, along with 26 others, has been the subject of a review by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke by Presidential order. This review is supposedly going to determine if the Antiquities Act was used appropriately in designation of these monuments, and whether those designations should be reduced or eliminated altogether.
This unprecedented review was unnecessary and seems one-sided. When Mr. Zinke visited Nevada, he did not meet with everyone he had agreed to and cut his visit short after only hearing from a select few proponents of the review. This is disrespectful to monument advocates, tribal members and the thousands of Nevadans who submitted comments in favor of keeping the monuments as they stand.
Now, the full results of the review will not be available until an undisclosed time, leaving everyone hanging.
Over the past year and a half, I have come to know many of these monument advocates. They are passionate about Gold Butte and care deeply for it. Like my friends and neighbors in this community, they love the land and they love being out on the land. They don’t want to shut off access or close roads.
They want to preserve access and at the same time, preserve all of the things about the land that we love.
I think Gold Butte is deserving of monument status. With its rich history, amazing rock formations and cultural icons, it is a place where people can connect with nature and their past in a spiritual way. A monument could also increase tourism in the Moapa Valley, which certainly would benefit the businesses that struggled to stay afloat (pardon the pun) when Echo Bay closed because of Lake Mead’s recession several years ago.
Gold Butte is a beautiful place and should be protected so it can stay pristine for generations to come. The proclamation designating the area as a monument provides for this, as well as clearly stating that access for both recreational users and the water district will remain open and unrestricted. Hopefully Mr. Zinke’s review acknowledges this and leaves Gold Butte National Monument unchanged.