Friends of Gold Butte Report Details Increased Destruction

DOWNLOAD THE DAMAGE REPORT HERE. The report has been redacted to protect archaeological artifact and cultural site locations so as not to drive additional visitation to sensitive yet unprotected areas.

Vehicle Intrusion into bearpaw poppy restoration area. Photo from Jan 6, 2015.

LAS VEGAS – August 19, 2015 –Today, the Friends of Gold Butte released a report entitled “Damage in Gold Butte, Nevada documenting destruction observed in the Gold Butte region between November 2014 and July 2015. The report provides photographs and descriptions of trespass near cultural and historic sites as well as harm to sensitive desert areas that are habitat for threatened and endangered species.

“We are deeply dismayed at the extent of destruction that has occurred in this sacred landscape,” said Darren Daboda, Chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes. “Originally included in the historic Moapa River Indian Reservation, Gold Butte is part of our cultural heritage. It is important that we act now to prevent further damage.”

Covering almost 350,000 acres in southeastern Nevada, Gold Butte contains cultural, historic, and natural features. Among these are thousands of petroglyphs, historic mining- and pioneer-era artifacts, and rare and threatened wildlife such as the Mojave Desert tortoise and desert big horn sheep.

Volunteers have documented an increasing level of damage to the land. The report details multiple instances of vehicle trespass into archaeological and historic sites, sensitive desert areas, along washes and riverbanks, and delicate restoration sites. There is also documentation of an unauthorized water delivery system being constructed across several miles of desert. This is not the only damage the area has seen recently. Back in April, 2014 the graves of Arthur Coleman and Billy Garret, two colorful historic figures, were desecrated near the Gold Butte town site.

Unauthorized trenching across miles of desert ACEC to lay water pipe. Photographed May 10, 2015

“This documented and ongoing damage highlights the urgent need to permanently protect Gold Butte,” said Jaina Moan, Executive Director for Friends of Gold Butte. “Gold Butte is a national treasure of cultural, historic, and natural wonders. Like Basin and Range National Monument, which was established in July, it needs immediate protection to make sure these marvels are preserved for current and future generations.”

The Bureau of Land Management administers Gold Butte as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) to protect habitat for the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, and sensitive plant species, and to protect the numerous cultural resources found in the area. Security concerns have prevented the agency from maintaining a physical presence on the land since April 2014.

Concerned citizens have been working to achieve permanent protection for Gold Butte since 2000 and have gained considerable support for its conservation. Senator Harry Reid and Representative Dina Titus introduced legislation earlier this year to designate Gold Butte a National Conservation Area. The effort to protect Gold Butte also recently received national recognition from the #LiveMonumental Keen Footwear campaign. Keen chose just five areas around the country that deserved permanent protection, including Gold Butte. A celebration with hundreds of Nevadans was held in Las Vegas last month to demonstrate support for Gold Butte.

“Gold Butte is Nevada’s piece of the Grand Canyon,” said Moan. “We would never let this sort of devastation happen to the Grand Canyon and we should not let it happen here. The time is now to protect Gold Butte.”

A copy of the Gold Butte Damage report can be downloaded HERE . The report has been redacted to protect cultural site information.

For select images of damage in Gold Butte go to:

For b-roll footage of Gold Butte go to:



About Friends of Gold Butte:
Friends of Gold Butte is a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to achieve permanent protection for Gold Butte’s biological, geological and cultural resources through education, community outreach and advocacy.


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