In the waning days of 2016, Gold Butte finally received the protected designation it needs and deserves. Now, one year later, we are seeing real and positive results on the land. There has been an increase in private and public funding and resources going to support restoration and research projects. Visitation to the Monument has increased and plans to install interpretive and directional signage have been approved. Notably, over a hundred local citizens have participated in education and outreach projects that promote responsible enjoyment in Gold Butte National Monument. We are grateful for all of our volunteers and supporters who helped make this a great year.
Top 5 Highlights of 2017
We got to work in the early days of 2017. In January and March we partnered with the Friends of Nevada Wilderness and over 40 dedicated volunteers to restore pristine desert areas damaged from illegal vehicle incursions. In September, over 30 people volunteered on National Public Lands Day to help with 5 projects in the Monument including painting kiosks, repairing fences damaged in summer flooding, installing signs to keep drivers safe on designated roads, and picking up trash. Throughout the year, we hosted monthly trash clean ups and removed over 1,000 pounds of bottles, cans, tires, and other strange items we found along the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway.
Plant and Road Monitoring
We kicked off two long-term citizen science and monitoring efforts in 2017. Starting in April, FoGB volunteers teamed up with the BLM to assist with native seed collection and invasive plant monitoring research projects. Our work to collect native seeds in Gold Butte is part of a national program called Seeds of Success. Seeds collected are used for research and propagated in greenhouses for replanting in damaged areas.
There are 350 miles of designated routes in Gold Butte National Monument, offering many opportunities for desert exploration. In September, FoGB road monitors began driving the roads to document road condition and complete minimal restoration work needed to keep drivers on the routes.
In 2017, FoGB hosted another year of engaging presentations in Mesquite with our Gold Butte Speaker Series. Topics included bighorn sheep,
weather, desert plant restoration, peregrine falcons, prehistoric cultures, Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) perspectives of Gold Butte, fossil tracks, and the Old Spanish Trail. Thanks to everyone who joined us at these events. In October, we kicked off our Gold Butte Ambassador program–a long-term effort to provide information to visitors of Gold Butte National Monument. We appreciate the volunteers who have given their time to promote safe and responsible enjoyment of Gold Butte.
Protect and Defend Gold Butte National Monument
The need to voice our support for our beloved Monument continues. In the spring, we advocated for Gold Butte National Monument to the Nevada State Legislature, resulting in the passage of Assembly Joint Resolution 13, which expressed support for Nevada’s National Monuments and the Antiquities Act.
In April, the Trump Administration launched an unprecedented attack on America’s antiquities when he ordered the Department of Interior to review the status of 27 of America’s national monuments. During the summer, we helped in delivering over 90,000 comments supporting Nevada’s National Monuments to the DOI. Over 2.7 million comments from the American people with 98% in favor of keeping protections for all monuments. Despite this popular support, the Trump Administration issued an order to reduce the Bears Ears National Monument by 84% and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 46%. Sadly, our own Gold Butte National Monument is now threatened with a loss of protection as it was one of four monuments targeted for reduction. We will remain vigilant and continue to fight for the antiquities and natural treasures in Gold Butte.
Celebrating Gold Butte National Monument
December 28 marked the 1 year anniversary of Gold Butte National Monument. We celebrated this occasion with members from the Moapa Band of Paiutes and the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe and with our Mesquite supporters. We look forward to many more protected years for Gold Butte.
Thank you to all our friends, supporters, and volunteers who helped make this year great. We look forward to more good work in 2018.