Help nurture recreational opportunities in a vast and popular area of the beautiful Mojave Desert.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is asking for comments about non-motorized recreation in the Gold Butte area of southeast Nevada. These lands contain petroglyphs, historical relics, and varied landforms, plus two small wilderness areas. BLM recognizes that too much unmanaged visitation has put these delicate resources at risk and has caused damage to fragile cultural sites.
The conservationist push for a 300,000 acre National Conservation Area with several additional wilderness areas, is being led by the local organization Friends of Gold Butte.
The public comment period for the Gold Butte Recreational Analysis is open until May 25. Submit your comments to:
c/o Carrie Ronning
BLM Las Vegas FO
4701 N. Torrey Pines Dr.
Las Vegas, NV 89130.
Because the area has become heavily used by recreational and off-road vehicles, it is crucial that BLM hear from many people who will drive to the area, but then seek non-motorized recreation.
- Urge new hiking trails into the roadless areas, with trailhead parking and also parking for visitors who seek opportunities to explore crosscountry on foot. Trails or minimally marked hiking routes would be useful to the petroglyph concentrations south of Mud Wash, between Bitter Ridge and Black Butte, in Mud Wash, on Tramp Ridge, to the Jumbo Peak ridge-top, and to Bonelli Peak in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area south of the BLM lands.
- Urge the need for abundant interpretive signs and visitor information highlighting Gold Butte’s history, natural values, and fragility.
- Whitney Pockets, presently the main camping area, needs restroom facilities, and ways to separate visitors with large recreational vehicles and trailers from campers with tents or small trailers. Camping must be kept away from the sensitive rock art and other key resources at Whitney Pockets.
- Due to the vastness of the Gold Butte area, camping should be allowed in other designated locations along the backcountry road network, but there need to be rules against random roadside camping. Small, primitive campgrounds could be put near the historic Gold Butte townsite (but not at the boulders), near the Back-country Byway east of Lime Ridge Wilderness, and in higher Cedar Basin, with its pinyon-juniper woodlands.
- Backpacking rules should specify minimal camping distances from roads, springs, and tinajas and perhaps mandate stoves rather than campfires.
- Interpretation of geology, life zones, riparian resources, historical influences, invasive grasses, fire, and the like should be stressed along roads, routes, and trails, at old mine sites via short interpretive trails, and in the popular Mud Wash area.
- There is general need for restroom facilities and trash receptacles.
Information about the study is available at www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/lvfo.html.
From Words of the Wild, newsletter of the Sierra Club’s California/Nevada Wilderness Committee, at
Par Rasumusson, Gold Butte liaison, Sierra Club Southern Nevada Group; and Howard Booth helped in preparing this article.