Southern Nevada is blessed with some beautiful desert wildlands. Drive in any direction from Las Vegas and you'll find a corner of desert where you can enjoy solitude, the smell of creosote, and a beautiful landscape. Contrary to what Bundy would like me to believe, I have never felt fenced out. I have camped and hiked on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) south of Searchlight where I watched the setting sun light up Spirit Mountain. I camped with my brother in the Wee Thump Wilderness area among a forest of Joshua Trees. I have enjoyed visits to the Desert and Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuges where I stood in awe of how species can adapt and thrive in such an unforgiving landscape. I watched a shelf of billowy white and silver clouds sit on top of the magnificant Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area as a late winter storm approached. I drove up rough roads to the base of Bare Mountain to investigate a natural spring frequented by bighorn sheep, and watched a golden eagle circle high above the peak.
|Sunset across the Piute Valley with Spirit Mountain catching the last rays of light. BLM lands south of Searchlight, Nevada.|
So what do Cliven Bundy and some members of the Nevada legislature think we should be doing with our public lands? Apparently they want a free-for-all where the most powerful interests can expand destructive uses, depriving the rest of us of the natural treasures that we should be protecting for future generations. Are these people familiar with the tragedy of the commons?
I do not always agree with the Federal government's decisions on how to manage public lands, but I sure as hell do not agree with Cliven Bundy's proposal to hand over public lands to industry and other profiteers under the guise of freedom. Public lands should stay in public hands, and that means finding a balance among the multitude of human demands that protects wildlife and wide-open landscapes. We should not take open space and biodiversity for granted.
We should have a rational discussion about land management in Nevada, but people like Cliven Bundy - who want to deprive us of our ability to enjoy and explore public lands - have proven that they have nothing constructive to say.