LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- If a bill now before congress passes, 350,000 acres of BLM land could become a national conservation area. Tom Hawley made the trip to gold butte earlier this week and joins us in the studio with more.
Supporters of the change say Gold Butte has all the attributes of a great wilderness area, but not the protections, improvements and notoriety that a congressional designation would bring.
Among the treasures at Gold Butte are thousands of examples of Native American art etched into sandstone.
One in particular stands out.
“The Falling Man has almost become a mascot for this area and the falling man is quite an unusual petroglyph,” said Mesquite councilman Karl Gustaveson. “Because if you look at it, it basically is portraying someone falling off a cliff. it is a falling man.”
Gustaveson has been visiting Gold Butte, about an hour northwest of Las Vegas, near Bunkerville since he arrived in the early '90s and began exploring.
“There's a lot of people who have come here and said well we don't see anything. Well, it's the side roads, as you know, where you see everything,” Gustaveson said. And there's thousands of petroglyphs here. There's photo ops that are incredible. It's just a great place”.
He thinks the sights here are the equal of other nearby recreation hot spots, and should get the same treatment.
“If you look at Red Rock and you look at Valley of Fire and the other areas that are being managed properly, you don't see destruction of the area,” Gustaveson said. “And you see a lot of usage,”
It's not that you can't visit gold butte right now you can. but the a National Conservation Area designation would provide visitor facilities, improve roads, add trails. Essentially make it more user friendly to the casual outdoor enthusiast.
“It would give the area protection and it would give the area funding so that you could get interpretive signage. And there would be more control of what's going on in the area in terms of not allow petroglyphs to be damaged and those types of things.” Gustaveson said.
This is not a done deal. Some in mesquite would rather keep the land unrestricted, or at least make the designated area much smaller. And even though it's now before congress don't look for visitor kiosks anytime soon.
“Well the management plan hasn't been completed because the two versions for the House and the Senate have a lot of disparity on them,” Gustaveson said. “So those issues have to be resolved to bring the bill to one bill.”