My motivation to protect public access to public land is the memories of all the places we’ve lost. We’ve lost a lot to development; but far more to closures for preservation. Between development and preservation, people who use public land are running out of public land.
My first participation in protecting public access to public land was the California Desert Conservation Act. A lot of time and work went into a balanced compromise. I felt good about the process, participating in it, and the result until the feeling soured when Senator Bryan Cranston’s Mohave National Preserve Act set the compromise aside and ended southern California off-road racing as we’d known it.
In 1993 I moved to Las Vegas and felt I’d gone back 15 years riding on public land. The vise tightened with BLM’s 1998 Southern Nevada RMP (Resource Management Plan). I attended meetings and sent comments, and although we lost a lot, we kept enough. But keeping what’s left is an ongoing fight.
The 2005 US Forest Service’s Spring Mountain West Side Plan divided up the Pahrump side of the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area. A fight that continues every 3 years when the US Forest Service reviews their management plan. My participation was based on having read the docs cover to cover over just offering my opinions. That led to my being asked to serve on a long line of boards and commissions including a charter member of the Nevada OHV Commission, BLM Resource Advisory Board, and as MRAN’s (Motorcycle Racing Association of Nevada) Land Use Officer. Serving on a Town Board and Planning Commission, I learned how other groups get what they want.
2009 BLM began public scoping to revise the Southern Nevada 1998 RMP (Resource Management Plan). My goals were:
- Provide a user mapped inventory of existing OHV routes because vehicle travel is limited to existing roads, trails, and dry washes. Routes mapped and turned in by the public comment deadline were existing routes. Routes not turned in weren’t. We could have mapped more trails, but many riders saw mapping as telling the BLM where our trails are so they could close them instead of our staking claim to them. Another issue is existing routes are existing only so long as they’re clearly visible. After trails grow over, they’re not existing routes anymore, on the map or not. That’s happening over several wet years. My long working relationship with Pahrump Tourism began when they asked for my trail map to post on their tourism website. Making our trails an economic asset has helped us keep them. When the BLM lost their trail inventory files and said there were no trails, the Pahrump Tourism’s website map documented existing trails. Pahrump area trail map is downloadable from www. visitpahrump.com; Download the map and ride the trails to keep them open. Nye County’s ordinance allowing OHV use of county roads likely wouldn’t have passed without Tourism’s support.
- The second goal was set aside recreation areas for off-roaders with permanent boundaries of unclaimed public land (especially around growing metropolitan areas) is up for grabs, so claim or lose it.
- The third was to make Pahrump the BLM’s center of influence for the Pahrump Valley. Boundaries that didn’t matter or made sense when drawn sometimes don’t work today. Today Pahrump is the largest community in the Pahrump Valley and the only town in the northern Pahrump Valley. But Pahrump is in Nye County managed by the BLM’s Pahrump Field Office. Most of the Pahrump Valley is in Clark County and managed by BLM’s Las Vegas Field Office, and their concerns are only about what they want and do not reflect what happens with Pahrump.
2014 BLM released its Southern Nevada RMP revision written based on the Obama administration parameters. Off-roaders turned out in mass against it and stopped its implementation.
January 2018 RMP revision was the dying gasp for the Obama administration.
Spring of 2018, the BLM fixed the 2014 RMP revision based on our comments, November 2018 the BLM scraped the RMP revision because compromises rarely please anyone. The 1998 RMP remains in effect. A lot is happening now not provided for in the 1998 RMP. Developers, preservationist, and Clark County politicians wrote an RMP revision they plan to implement by Nevada’s Congressional delegation passing it as federal law, known as the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act that divides remaining federal public land in Clark County between development and preservation. If passed off-road racers will be left with less than 4% of the federal public land in Clark County. Clark County’s RMP revision is much worse for off-roaders than the BLM’s RMP revision but has been met with only a token fight. Often, it’s necessary to keep fighting after you’ve won because the other side doesn’t give up. Back to the lessons, I learned serving on the Town Board and Planning Commission mentioned above. A mere 40 people in a community of 40,000 can get their way by working together, not giving up, and presenting what they want as serving the common good. A case in point is off-roaders are a much larger group but have few facilities in the state, county, and muni parks. Facilities for horseman and rough stock riders are common too plentiful. Cowboys and cowgirls have what they do because they work together to make government work for them. Make government work for you by participating. Know you’re elected officials and contact them so they know you and what you want. Volunteer to help make what you want happen. Here are some good volunteer opportunities:
- Pahrump Public Land Advisory Committee (PLAC) meets once a month. Current projects are the Southside Trailhead, Bell Vista Shooting range, Spring Mountain wildlife guzzlers.
- Pahrump Valley 4 Wheelers maintains the spring feed tough at Wheeler Well and some of the Spring Mountain wildlife guzzlers.
- BLM, NDOW (Nevada Dept. of Wildlife), SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) need volunteers to observe and report. Turn your ride into a mission monitoring springs, guzzlers, and cultural sites.
It feels a lot different walking into government offices where officials see you as an asset. And it makes it a lot easier to get what you want from them. What I’m doing now and my current positions:
- Nevada AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) Volunteer Coordinator
- AMA D-35/MRAN (Motorcycle Racing Association of NV) Legislative Officer
- NOHVCC (National OHV Conservation Council) Nevada State Partner
- Southern Nye County Conservation District Supervisor
- Pahrump Tourism Department OHV Ambassador
- Pahrump Public Land Advisory Board Secretary.
I’ve ridden motorcycles since I was a young man. I pray Heaven is endless weekends on endless trails with my best friends. My current toys are a 2009 Sus DR-650, 2012 Beta RS-350, 2014 KTM 250EC, Teryx side-by-side, and Jeep Wrangler. The Jeep and the side-by-side say I’ve gotten old. I’m still off-roading and fighting to keep trails open so we can keep off-roading.