Most people think of Nevada as the home of the Las Vegas strip – and that’s it. But, there’s so much more to explore in the state. From high alpine wilderness to the floor of the Mojave desert, Nevada is a state of incredible natural diversity known around the world as an exceptional outdoor recreation destination. And the landscape provides a lot more than just recreation and relaxation: it’s also a vital part of the economy, culture, and history of Nevada. HECHO is committed to protecting those natural resources, and here’s what we’ve been up to lately:
HECHO Board member Al Martinez Speaks at the Nevada Press Conference for The Center for Western Priorities “Monuments to America” Road Trip
In late April, President Trump issued an executive order instructing the Department of the Interior to review 27 national monuments protected over the last 21 years. Every indication from President Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and politicians close to them is that the outcome is preordained and review will lead to attempts to shrink or eliminate some of our beloved national monuments. Rolling back national monument protections through executive action is an unprecedented move that puts all of America’s protected lands, parks, forests and monuments at risk.
Already, Secretary Zinke has recommended eliminating vast portions of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument. These are monuments to America, to our land, to our courage and sacrifice, and to our Latino history. An attack on even one national monument is an attack on them all.
In an effort to raise awareness and protect these precious places, the Center for Western Priorities’ took a six-state Monuments to America tour, RV road-trip highlighting national monuments across the West that are threatened by President Trump’s executive order. On their journey, they held press conferences at six locations: Grand Junction, CO, Albuquerque, NM, Flagstaff, AZ, Palm Springs, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, and Las Vegas, NV (where HECHO Board member Al Martinez joined in).
“My whole family came up three weeks ago and we went to Mt Charleston and Red Rocks,” said Martinez. “We went on the ski lifts and they saw the wild horses running around. They had no idea we were only 50 miles away from the Las Vegas Strip. They thought it was two different worlds. These are the lands that we hunt and fish – we go outdoors with our families to camp – this is our way to connect with our roots. I call it recharging our soul.” Learn more about the tour and the press conferences here.
HECHO Op-Ed: Trump Administration Must Preserve Nevada National Monuments
Two of Nevada's national monuments are among the 27 monuments threatened under President Trump’s executive order.
· Basin and Range National Monument encompasses a dramatic landscape of steep climbs followed by long, flat valleys formed by the slow stretching of the Earth’s crust. The area’s ancient rock art was joined in 1972 by Michael Heizer’s famous land art piece, The City.
· Gold Butte National Monument protects a rugged desert landscape in Southern Nevada, featuring rock art, sandstone towers and twisting canyons that provide habitat for the endangered Mojave Desert tortoise, along with bighorn sheep and mountain lions.
Speaking out to protect Nevada's monuments, HECHO director Camilla Simon and board member Al Martinez co-authored an op-ed for the Las Vegas Review Journal. Here’s an excerpt:
The issue at the heart of this review process is who these lands belong to. The Interior Department is very interested in making sure that there is local input. We agree that local voices are important, but we cannot forget that these lands are owned by all Americans.
In Nevada, there have already been public hearings in which hundreds of local voices were heard in regard to these monuments, prior to their designations.
But it’s not just local voices that matter. People travel from all over the world to Nevada’s Basin and Range National Monument, for example, which covers 704,000 acres. The monument’s Garden and Coal valleys connect eight desert mountain ranges, including Golden Gate, Seaman and Mount Irish. The monument includes archaeological sites, 19th century settlements and Native American rock art that is approximately 4,000 years old; as well as wildlife such as pronghorn, elk desert bighorn sheep, golden eagle, and many species of bat, lizard and snake.
Likewise, Gold Butte National Monument is beloved by visitors from around the country. This part of the Grand Canyon covers nearly 300,000 acres of dramatic desert landscape with red sandstone, twisting canyons, and tree-clad mountains. Visitors can hike to rock art sites, drive to the area’s mining ghost town, which dates back to the 1700s, hunt desert bighorn sheep, or tour the area’s peaks and canyons on horseback.
Read the full op-ed here.
In recognition and celebration of Latino Conservation Week, HECHO board member Al Martinez lead a hiking excursion in Cathedral Rock, a 2.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Las Vegas, Nevada. “For some of these folks, it was their first time coming to Mt. Charleston,” said Martinez. “A lot of folks don’t initially understand the conservation aspect, but with HECHO it’s real easy. We’re about going outdoors, hunting, camping, and hiking. It’s really important to protect these lands so we have the opportunity to go out and do what we do.”