It has been a busy year for Gold Butte and for the Friends of Gold Butte. Read on for a recap of the news, activities, and accomplishments of 2015.
In January, Senator Harry Reid introduced S.B. 199 to protect Gold Butte as a National Conservation Area with Wilderness. Thank you Senator Reid!
In February, Representative Dina Titus introduced HR 856 to protect Gold Butte as a National Conservation Area with Wilderness. Thank you Congresswoman Titus!
Also in February, FoGB members attended and spoke at a public hearing in support of Gold Butte and Nevada’s public lands. The “Conversation on Conservation” was hosted by Senator Harry Reid and Representative Dina Titus with special guests Mike Connor, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior and BLM Director Neil Kornze. Over 400 people attended this event. We had members from Mesquite and Las Vegas attend. We were grateful for this opportunity to show our support for protecting Gold Butte.
In March, public lands were a topic of debate at the state legislature in Carson City with hearings for Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR 1), a bill that “urged Congress” to give public lands to the State of Nevada, and Assembly Bill 408 (AB 408), a bill that demanded state takeover of public land. For both hearings, Friends of Gold Butte members joined public lands supporters from across the state to give testimony opposing the proposed legislation. We traveled to Carson City to testify in person against AB408. In the end, SJR 1 was passed and AB 408 was defeated in the Nevada legislature.
Also, in March, the Friends of Gold Butte was honored with the Friends Group of the Year from the Conservation Lands Foundation.
In April, the Mesquite City Council revisited previous Resolutions that supported conservation for Gold Butte. Over the course of two meetings, the Council heard comments from the public about Gold Butte. We are grateful that so many FoGB members and supporters attended the meetings to advocate and voice their support for protecting this amazing landscape. In the end, the Mesquite City Council passed a revised resolution, Resolution 867, supporting an NCA designation for Gold Butte with conditions. Thanks to all of you who turned out for those meetings or contacted your city officials. Our presence and voices made a difference.
It was a busy summer for public lands and the Friends of Gold Butte. In July, President Obama created the Basin and Range National Monument, conserving over 700,000 acres of land and protecting its archaeological and natural treasures. We applaud the protection of this beautiful landscape, but we can’t forget that Gold Butte!
Soon after the proclamation was signed, FoGB Executive Director Jaina Moan traveled to Washington DC with a diverse group of Nevadans to express our gratitude for the new monument and to our elected leaders know that Gold Butte needs and deserves permanent protection too.
In late July, Gold Butte was visited by KEEN Footwear’s Live Monumental campaign. KEEN partnered with Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Friends of Gold Butte, and Zappos to highlight the urgent need to protect Gold Butte as a national monument. Gold Butte was the first stop on the Live Monumental tour and the KEEN team kicked it off with a petition-signing party at Zappos HQ with over 400 people in attendance. The next night, the KEEN and Zappos team experienced Gold Butte on an incredible summer night hike. KEEN continued their tour, traveling across the country, visiting four more amazing places deserving of monument protection before delivering their petitions to Washington DC in September.
In August, FoGB released a report titled “Damage in Gold Butte, Nevada” detailing damage that was observed by citizen stewards. We shared our report with land management agencies, the Moapa Band of Paiutes, and the media to highlight the urgency of the on-going problems in Gold Butte and the need for permanent protection.
In September, board President and long-time volunteer Tony Barron said goodbye to the Friends of Gold Butte and to Texas to be closer to family. Byron George was elected as Board President. We look forward to Byron’s leadership. Board member Heidi Swank also left the board to grow her own organization, the Nevada Preservation Foundation. We are thankful that Heidi has continued her involvement, serving as an ambassador and supporter for FoGB.
In November, the Outside Las Vegas Foundation released a Gold Butte economic study that was conducted by Applied Analysis. The economic study found that visitation to the Gold Butte area will increase as a result of a National Conservation Area designation and that if just 10 percent of these new visitors to Gold Butte decided to spend the night in Mesquite, the total economic impact for the community would be $2.7 million per year, creating 28 full-time jobs throughout the community.
Throughout the year, the Friends of Gold Butte hosted speaker events in both Henderson and Mesquite. We were pleased to feature presentations about geology, botany, hummingbirds, Gila monsters, wilderness and more. Thank you to all of our speakers for sharing your knowledge and expertise.
And thank you to all of you – supporters and friends of Friends of Gold Butte. We appreciate your time, energy, and financial contribution you have given. We look forward to a wonderful 2016!