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Summer 2006 Nevada Wilderness Project Newsletter


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Summer 2006 Nevada Wilderness Project Newsletter

  1. 1. Nevada Wilderness Project Summer 2006 Summer Odyssey For the second year in a row, NWP has put together corners of the Reno-Tahoe watershed. Nevadansa twelve person team of runners to compete in an ultra- who have seen decades old mining scars, tire tracks,distance relay race. This year, rather than travel back to and subdivisions proudly turned over checks. FolksPortland, OR, we decided to enter the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. from far away had no trouble considering that evenA 178-mile race that began in Reno and went through Lake if they had never been to Nevada, they might oneTahoe and Virginia City before ending back in downtown day come, and when they do they would rather seeReno. Each team member was asked to raise a $1,000 for sage brushwilderness and was required to run three legs during the vistas andrace. Below is teammate’ Andy Mitchell’s own thoughts on desertthe experience. buttes than cookie cut- In retrospect, running was the easy part-- the ter cul-de-quiet, fresh air, pretty scenery part. The low stress, sacs namedstraightforward, simple, objective part. A reprieve from after them.logistics and fundraising. When we weren’t running, we were on edge. Badreception would bring cryptic messages crackling throughfrom van 1: "Where are you? Steve ran a seven-minutemile-- we are early... EARLY!" We were groggy faces drag-ging sleeping bags through pine needles, motivated by Photo by Kristie Connollyclouds of midnight mosquitoes and passing cars. We piled into our mini van; so much for a full hours’ sleep. We Fortified by this reality, I ran 6.2 miles at 3:30 AM sped ahead to the next through Jacks Valley, NV, and it was the best 53 transition, watching out for minutes of my summer. I was motivated and in- cops, raccoons and Vinil. spired by the confidence of so many people who got Thank goodness for satel- on board for this cause and will continue to do so. lite radio and the Prince Our 178 miles impressed so many contributors, but remix. We would leapfrog it is we who are impressed by them. We know that Photo by Steve Leslie around the runner and even though we ran so far and so hard, in this wil- stop to offer water and derness pursuit, that was the easy part.cheers, all with the next runner changing in the back and Andy Mitchellthe previous runner smiling and sweating into the seats. Reno, NV The van had to drop a gear to get up KingsburyGrade; so did Erica—but she powered up to the summit In this Issue:and passed a well-worked bracelet to Cameron. He took itdown the Nevada side with the steady rhythm of a long-haul semi in the passing lane. Next went Katie, all smiles Summer Odyssey- pg. 1and effortless cruise. Then Steve on mythic winged san- Business Spotlight & Director’s Corner - pg. 2dals. Stephanie would bravely take over from me, and we Lake Lahontan- pg. 3would find her well down the road making a steady clip.Only if we made it to a hand off early could we ponder the White Pine County Update - pg. 4-5dilemma “to port-o-can, or not to port-o-can?” Gold Butte Update - pg. 6 Weeks prior to ever hitting the pavement, phone Volunteer Spotlight, Caption Contest, Farewell tocalls went out. So did emails, snail mails, brochures, Erika Pollard - pg. 7faxes, text messages, mental telepathy, smoke signals, WILD Calendar - pg. 8whispers, winks and nods. The fifties rolled in from NYC,Atlanta, Michigan, Chicago, Wisconsin, SoCal, and all five
  2. 2. Nevada Wilderness Business Spotlight: Escape Adventures Project Northern Office Celebrating human power and the natural envi- 8550 White Fir Street ronment in a way that motivates, preserves and Reno, NV 89523 educates is the mission of Escape Adventures, a 775.746.7850 Las Vegas-based hiking, road cycling, mountain Southern Office biking and multi-sport tour company owned by Jared & Heather Fisher. Both single and multi-4220 S. Maryland Pkwy day tours take participants into incredible, back- Suite 402B country landscapes around the western United Las Vegas, NV 89119 States, including Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Oregon and California. The 702.369.1871 tour company operates under a leave-no-trace ethic and encourages non-motorized use of backcountry trails. A 501 (c) (3) non-profit Since 2004, Escape Adventures has been a business supporter of the Ne- corporation vada Wilderness Project. Having a strong backcountry ethic along with employees and customers who enjoy recreating in pristine, natural settings, it makes good NWP Board of Directors business sense that Jared & Heather Fisher have chosen to support public land Bret Birdsong, President protection efforts and the Nevada Wilderness Project. Though some would find a company that promotes mountain biking an unlikely partner in wilderness Brian O’Donnell, Vice President protection, Jared & Heather understand the need to give some of our public Lynn Schiek, Secretary lands the highest level of protection that wilderness affords. Chris Todd We look forward to deepening our relationship with Escape Adventures and Morlee Griswold appreciate their efforts to motivate and educate their guests about Nevada’s wild Tori King places while grinding the pedals and hitting the backcountry trails! For more infor- mation on Escape Adventures and their tours, check out their website at NWP Staff or give them a call at 800-596-2953. John Wallin Director Kristie Connolly Associate Director Nancy Beecher Director’s Corner Conservation Director Mackenzie Banta The dog days of summer are here, with much of Development Director the state experiencing record-high temperatures. In Reno Cameron Johnson Northern NV Outreach Director the past few weeks, we’ve routinely hit 100 on the ther- Cynthia Scholl mometer, prompting lots of Nevadans to head to higher Membership Coordinator elevations for some recreation and relief. Nancy Hall Gold Butte Organizer Our work across the state is heating up as well! White Pine County remains front and center, and in this Coalition Partners issue, we’ve included a special section on the imminent Campaign for America’s Wilderness introduction of the White Pine lands bill and steps you Friends of Nevada Wilderness can take to ensure all wilderness lands get the protection they deserve on Nevada Outdoor Recreation Assoc. pages 4 and 5. You’ll also read about some of Nancy Beecher’s dreams of the Red Rock Audubon Society Pleistocene on page 3 as we ramp up our summer fieldwork season. From Sierra Club - Toiyabe Chapter sweltering Mesquite, Nancy Hall keeps us up to date on the roads designation The Wilderness Society comment period for Gold Butte - a critical process for keeping Nevada’s piece of NWP the Grand Canyon wild. And on page 7, we bid a fond farewell to Erika Pollard, who is moving on to new challenges in Utah. Mission Statement: We also to pay homage in this issue to all of the runners in the Reno-The Nevada Wilderness Tahoe Odyssey in our cover piece by uber volunteer Andy Mitchell. We’re on Project is committed to track to a wonderful tradition with that event, which serves as a great exam-saving spectacular, rug- ple of how a small group of people can make a big difference for Nevadaged-and imperiled-public lands in Nevada as wilderness. I hope you’ll enjoy this issue and act on as many issues as youWilderness, the strongest can—if you don’t, who will? protection possible. John WallinPage 2 Summer 2006
  3. 3. There was Once a Lake……. This is what I saw when I closed my eyes. The earth was unlike any Ihad ever experienced, and I took a deep breath and smiled at the sight becauseit cooled me down. Although a moment ago I had been standing on firm ground,I was now floating in immense waters. I was in the Smoke Creek Desert, yet I was in a lake. A lake that heldmore water than most Nevadans ever see. If I had a bird’s-eye view I would haveseen over 8,000 square miles of water covering the western Great Basin, includ-ing much of northwestern Nevada. Hard to imagine, I know. Let me explain. I had driven and walked for miles over the baked ground in 90-degreeheat and intense sun that day. The silence was so loud that I could hear thestill air in my ears. The top surface of the dry lake bed was crusty, and the re-flections of the sun’s rays were cruel to my eyeballs. This is why I shut my eyesin the first place, not expecting to have such visions. Visions of the SmokeCreek Desert -- or, more accurately, ancient Lake Lahontan -- 12,000 years ago,nearing the end of the last Ice Age. Photo by Marcial Reiley The rain pelted my face, and I knew that I was either hallucinating fromthe heat or doing an amazing job of envisioning the land’s history. More rain, less evaporation, and waterstreaming from melting glaciers had filled these giant lake beds. I lifted my eyelashes and caught a glimpse of agiant mammoth, 13-ft tall at the shoulder and 6.5 tons heavy. Relatives of elephants, these animals evolved inAfrica 3 million years ago and later spread to the new world. Other animals began to appear in my line of sight:giant bison with 6-ft horn spans, llama-like camels, saber tooth cats as large as lions, great American lions,ground sloths, cave bears and American cheetahs. A large shadow hovered over me, and I ducked as a 30-lb bird called Teratornis (a relative of the condor with a 14-ft wingspan) flew overhead. All of these animals, once inhabitants of this region, are gone. Climate change, as well as man, may have caused their extinction. It was climate change that also led to the drying of the lake beds. Not human-caused climate change, as we hear about these days, but natural background cli- mate change. Starting over 12,000 years ago, temperatures rose, and glaciers around the country melted; in the arid western U.S., evaporation increased and lake water became steam. Nowadays, Pyramid Lake and Walker Lake are the only permanently standing water remnants of ancient Lake Lahontan inRecreation of a mammoth fossil found in Nevada. Playas such as Smoke Creek Desert and Black Rock Desert, onceBlack Rock Desert, Nevada. [Nevada StateMuseum] part of Lake Lahontan, are now dry lake beds covered with salt. Buried deep within these sites lies a rich history in fossils. Before I shut my eyes and floated in the lake, our field worker Derek Bloomquistand I had captured the past with open eyes. We saw wave-cut terraces on the side of Poo-dle Mountain WSA, where the ancient lake shore used to reach. We even saw a structurecreated during the lake’s existence called a tufa (see right photo). Pretty cool. Along with experiencing great sightings, Derek is doing important work. As a tem-porary field worker, Derek ground-truths wild lands of Nevada. With a GPS unit and topog-raphic maps in hand, by vehicle and foot, he covers specific areas that we might propose aswilderness in the future. He meticulously writes notes and takes photographs of roads thataren’t on the map and mapped roads that aren’t on the ground, other human impacts, bio-logical and archaeological observations, and any other item of interest that might play a rolein our final proposals to Congress. Photo by Larry Fellows If you are interested in becoming active within the NWP, we are always looking forgreat people who wish to contribute to our field inventories, hikes, photography, creative prose and other volun-teer efforts. If you have that itch, please contact me at Nancy Beecher NWP Conservation DirectorPage 3 Summer 2006
  4. 4. White Pine CountyUpdate4-6 weeks. We should see a bill in 4-6 weeks. This is what our folks in Washington, DC have been telling us, andit is what we have been telling you for the past 4-6 months. Every time we seem to be getting close to introduc-tion, something inexplicably sends the draft of a White Pine County Public Lands Bill back to the drawing board.But as the 109th Congress draws closer tothe end of its session, legislation remainsimminent, and our confidence in the Delega-tion’s determination to designate wildernessin White Pine County is still high.Nevertheless, the time has come for us tobegin raising our voices so that the call forwilderness in White Pine County will beheard by our elected officials. At the end ofJuly, coalition volunteers gathered at twodifferent events to help get the word outabout wilderness in White Pine County. OnJuly 25th, we gathered at the Great BasinBrewery in Sparks for a White Pine Countycelebration and strategy session. Sixteenvolunteers armed with pens and paper wrote40 letters to our delegation members askingthem to protect Blue Mass in the KernMountains, Red Mountain and Shellback inthe White Pine Range, Mt. Grafton WSA, andthe South Egan WSA. The next evening, 18 volun- teers gathered at our Project office in Reno to phone bank both members of the Project and Friends of Nevada Wilderness. The reason for the phone bank was to ask members to call Senators Reid and Ensign at their offices in Washington with the message that White Pine County should be wild, and special places like the South Egan Wilderness Study Area and Shellback Ridge in the White Pine Range should be protected forever as wilderness. The event was a HUGE suc- cess! Our volunteers made over 800 calls and received 200 commitments from members to call our Senators. That’s a combined 400 calls going into Capital Hill. NWP has never done a phone bankbefore, but we will be trying again once the bill has been introduced. Hearty thanks goes out to Leif Christensen,Kristen Ashbaugh, Andy Mitchell, Erin Babcock, Kate Pool, Ross Cooper, Heather Singer, Erik Holland, Mojo Rogers, Linda McNeil, Mary Lou Banta, Cali Crampton, Roxanne Sterr, Kaitlin Backlund, Doug Goodall (who made calls from Salt Lake City!), Richard Knox, Pat Bruce, and Angie Dykema. Granite spires in the Blue Mass/Kern Mtn Proposed Wilderness Photo by Pete DronkersPage 4 Summer 2006
  5. 5. White Pine CountyAction Alert! We are asking members to continue calling Sena- tors Reid and Ensign in Washington to tell them that they want to see more wilderness in White Pine County. Below you will find their phone numbers and the simple message that we need delivered. If you would like more information on these areas, please check our “Proposals” section on the Project website, Senator Reid’s number in Washington is 202.224.3542 Senator Ensign’s number in Washington is 202.224.6244 Photo by Scott Smith Aspen grove in Mt. Grafton Proposed Wilderness Remember, let your senator know that you support wilderness in White Pine County and want to see the South Egan Range and White Pine Range protected as wilderness. Leave your name and address with the receptionist so they know you are a constituent. Also, since we are expecting formal legislation to be introduced very soon, please check our web- site to find out the bill number and title be- fore you call! Photo by Pete Dronkers Red Mountain stands at 9,322’ and offers sweeping views of the Currant Mountain Wilderness and surrounding peaks within the White Pine Range. South Egan WSA South Egan Towers Photo by Nevada Wilderness Coalition Photo by Peter DruschkePage 5 Summer 2006
  6. 6. Gold Butte UpdateNevada’s Piece of the Grand Canyon Puzzle The BLM continues to work on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the InterimRoads Designation for Gold Butte. It should be available for comment sometime mid August.This is an excellent opportunity to express concern for the natural, scenic and cultural resourcesthat are being impacted daily by vandalism, theft, illegal ORV hill climbs, habitat fragmentationand destruction. The Citizen’s Wilderness Proposal identifies over 342,595 acres of wilderness quality lands.Presently, there are only two designated wilderness areas in Gold Butte: Lime Canyon Wildernessand Jumbo Springs Wilderness. Million Hills Wilderness Study Area and Virgin Mountain Na-tional Natural Area are managed for primitive recreation; Garrett Buttes has been released fromWilderness Study Area management. It is important to safeguard all quality wild lands and todesignate routes that were only identified in the original Wilderness Inventory. The Bureau of Land Management has designated Gold Butte as an Area of Critical Envi-ronmental Concern, (ACEC). In addition, this area is identified in the Clark County Multi SpeciesHabitat Conservation Plan as critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise. This critical habi-tat is necessary for the survival and recovery of the tortoise to ensure the US Fish and WildlifeService permit continues to help growth within the county. The location of roads should reflectthe tortoise needs. Native Americans have lived in and used this area for over 6,000 years. Sites includecaves, petroglyph panels and roasting pits. Various rock art panels show many generations ofuse. With the growth of the surrounding valleys and the popularity of ORV use, these resourcesare being compromised. Campsites are expanding on top of soft sand middens and delicate sand-stone outcroppings. Vandalism, theft and pot hunting have increased. It is important the Routedesignation pulls roads away from these resources and closes roads crossing over middens, roast-ing pit and dwellings. Please check our website at for notification of the comment period.For information about this spectacular Southern Nevada treasure and how you can help, contactNancy Hall at Nancy Hall Mesquite, NVPage 6 Summer 2006
  7. 7. Volunteer Spotlight: Drew Story Great volunteers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors and skill sets. This edition’s Volunteer Spotlight shines on our web guru, Drew Story from Ventura, CA. Drew is a member who learned about NWP through our board member, Chris Todd, his partner in crime in Patagonia’s web office. Last summer, Drew received a Patagonia internship to redesign our website, a Herculean task that has greatly improved our messaging and marketing ability on the information highway. Most re- cently, Drew saved us with his quick skills after our website had been hacked and reconfigured to play communist anthems to the backdrop of Islamic fundamentalist propaganda. Seriously, for sev- eral days our website was no longer advocating for the protection of Nevada but instead for the lib- eration of Palestine and Chechneya. Drew’s tireless efforts and dexterous fingers deserve our many thanks. He’s committed to keeping Nevada wild, and he’s “happy to help keep Nevada from being a nuclear waste dump” in any way he can. His freelance business, The Design Mission, is also a member of 1% For the Planet, a generous sponsor of ours in the past. Kristie summed Drew up best when she wrote, “ Drew rocks and helps us through our web problems all the time.” Thank you Drew, we appreciate your work for Nevada’s wilderness!Caption Contest In effort to inject a little more humor into our daily lives, we’re asking people to submit captions for our photos. To the right, you’ll find a photo. Sub- mit the winning caption, and receive a prize, as well as your name and caption in print in the fol- lowing newsletter. Please email submissions to Enjoy! Relaxin’ in a Great Basin Your caption here! Mike Colpo — Reno, NVA Fond Farewell to Miss Erika!! After five and a half years with the Project, former Conservation Director and cur- rent Foundation and Donor Relations colleague Erika Pollard is moving on to…Utah! She will be exploring new opportunities there as her husband Aaron steps into his new role as a regional sales director for Oracle and as they groom their young son Vann to become a Wasatch powder hound. Erika has done incredible work with the Project, from principle authorship of the Clark County and Lincoln County wilderness proposals, to organizing Nevadans with her intelligence and charm and to her most recent role forging a sustainable organizational de- velopment program that has set the tone for the Project’s growth and stability. It’s not un- usual for employees of small non-profits to juggle many tasks, but Erika’s unique leader- ship and grace has made an immense difference in both the quality and the joy of our work. For her many skills (two that come to mind: as a mixer of Bombay Oscars on theplaya and dancing to the Doors with drunken miners in badger hats at rural gas stations) and as a mentor andfriend, she will be sorely missed!Page 7 Summer 2006
  8. 8. NEVADA WILDERNESS CALENDAR WILDERNESS VALUES TRIPS & EVENTS Join NWP staff and volunteers on trips to potential wilderness areas! You can see beautiful places and help protect them at the same time by writing letters and plugging in to our ef- forts in a way that’s interesting and fun. All outings are weather permitting. Please log on to for more information. Northern Nevada Events - Aug. 10 Sparks Farmers’ Market - Please come on by our booth at the Market Photo © Kristie Connolly Aug. 26-27 Wilderness Values Trip to White Pine County, destination TBD Please join us for our Sept. 9-10 Wilderness Values Trip to Northern Nevada, destination TBDmonthly volunteer night at Oct. 6-8 Women’s Wilderness Values Trip Reno’s Great Basin Brewery Please contact Cameron Johnson at for more information. ( Southern Nevada Events - Sept 12th - Wilderness Values Trip to Gold Butte Sept 26th - Wilderness Values Trip to Gold Butte Nevada Wilderness Coalition Events - August 3 - Wilderness Happy Hour at Moose’s Beach House (5-7pm) August 5 - Festival in the Pines at Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort (10am—4pm) August 9 - Dead Poet Book Meeting at 937 S. Rainbow (6:30-8:30pm) August 27 - Nevada Wilderness Coalition Picnic at Cathedral Rock Group Picnic Site B (1-5pm) Aug 15th, 6-8pm Sept 12th, 6-8pm Please contact Nancy Hall at for more information. Oct 17th, 6-8pm Cover Photo by Howard Booth HELP US PROTECT YOUR WILDERNESS It’s easy to help… Cut out this form and mail it to: NV Wilderness Project, 8550 White Fir St; Reno, NV 89523 Comments:Enclosed is my donation of: I would like to make a recurring donation: Monthly $25.00 Every 3 months $50.00 Annually $100.00 Please include check or money Name Phone Number $250.00 order payable to: Nevada Wilderness Project. Address $500.00 For secure credit card Other Amount: ____________ transactions, please visit Email address City State Zip Printed on recycled paper