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Nevada Wilderness Project

Summer 2006

Summer Odyssey
For the second year in a row, NWP has put together corners of the Reno-Tahoe watershed. Nevadans
a 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. Folks
Portland, OR, we decided to enter the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. from far away had no trouble considering that even
A 178-mile race that began in Reno and went through Lake if they had never been to Nevada, they might one
Tahoe and Virginia City before ending back in downtown day come, and when they do they would rather see
Reno. Each team member was asked to raise a $1,000 for sage brush
wilderness and was required to run three legs during the vistas and
race. Below is teammate’ Andy Mitchell’s own thoughts on desert
the 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 named
straightforward, simple, objective part. A reprieve from
after them.
logistics and fundraising.
When we weren’t running, we were on edge. Bad
reception would bring cryptic messages crackling through
from van 1: "Where are you? Steve ran a seven-minute
mile-- we are early... EARLY!" We were groggy faces drag-
ging sleeping bags through pine needles, motivated by Photo by Kristie Connolly

clouds 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 Mitchell
the previous runner smiling and sweating into the seats. Reno, NV
The van had to drop a gear to get up Kingsbury
Grade; so did Erica—but she powered up to the summit In this Issue:
and passed a well-worked bracelet to Cameron. He took it
down the Nevada side with the steady rhythm of a long-
haul semi in the passing lane. Next went Katie, all smiles Summer Odyssey- pg. 1
and effortless cruise. Then Steve on mythic winged san- Business Spotlight & Director’s Corner - pg. 2
dals. Stephanie would bravely take over from me, and we
Lake Lahontan- pg. 3
would 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. 4-5
dilemma “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 to
calls went out. So did emails, snail mails, brochures, Erika Pollard - pg. 7
faxes, text messages, mental telepathy, smoke signals,
WILD Calendar - pg. 8
whispers, winks and nods. The fifties rolled in from NYC,
Atlanta, Michigan, Chicago, Wisconsin, SoCal, and all five
Nevada Wilderness Business Spotlight: Escape Adventures
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 responsible 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
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 Nevada
ged-and imperiled-public
lands in Nevada as
wilderness. I hope you’ll enjoy this issue and act on as many issues as you
Wilderness, the strongest can—if you don’t, who will?
protection possible. John Wallin

Page 2 Summer 2006

There was Once a Lake…….
This is what I saw when I closed my eyes. The earth was unlike any I
had ever experienced, and I took a deep breath and smiled at the sight because
it 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 held
more water than most Nevadans ever see. If I had a bird’s-eye view I would have
seen 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-degree
heat and intense sun that day. The silence was so loud that I could hear the
still 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 eyes
in the first place, not expecting to have such visions. Visions of the Smoke
Creek 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 from
the heat or doing an amazing job of envisioning the land’s history. More rain, less evaporation, and water
streaming from melting glaciers had filled these giant lake beds. I lifted my eyelashes and caught a glimpse of a
giant mammoth, 13-ft tall at the shoulder and 6.5 tons heavy. Relatives of elephants, these animals evolved in
Africa 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
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 in
Recreation of a mammoth fossil found in
Nevada. Playas such as Smoke Creek Desert and Black Rock Desert, once
Black Rock Desert, Nevada. [Nevada State
Museum] 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 Bloomquist
and 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 structure
created 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 as
wilderness in the future. He meticulously writes notes and takes photographs of roads that
aren’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 role
in our final proposals to Congress.
Photo by Larry Fellows
If you are interested in becoming active within the NWP, we are always looking for
great 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 Director

Page 3 Summer 2006

White Pine County

4-6 weeks. We should see a bill in 4-6 weeks. This is what our folks in Washington, DC have been telling us, and
it 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 to
the end of its session, legislation remains
imminent, and our confidence in the Delega-
tion’s determination to designate wilderness
in White Pine County is still high.

Nevertheless, the time has come for us to

begin raising our voices so that the call for
wilderness in White Pine County will be
heard by our elected officials. At the end of
July, coalition volunteers gathered at two
different events to help get the word out
about wilderness in White Pine County. On
July 25th, we gathered at the Great Basin
Brewery in Sparks for a White Pine County
celebration and strategy session. Sixteen
volunteers armed with pens and paper wrote
40 letters to our delegation members asking
them to protect Blue Mass in the Kern
Mountains, Red Mountain and Shellback in
the White Pine Range, Mt. Grafton WSA, and
the 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 bank
before, 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 Dronkers

Page 4 Summer 2006

White Pine County
Action 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

Senator Ensign’s number in Washington is
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 Druschke

Page 5 Summer 2006

Gold Butte Update
Nevada’s Piece of the Grand Canyon Puzzle

The BLM continues to work on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Interim
Roads 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 resources
that are being impacted daily by vandalism, theft, illegal ORV hill climbs, habitat fragmentation
and 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 Wilderness
and 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 from
Wilderness Study Area management. It is important to safeguard all quality wild lands and to
designate 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 Species
Habitat 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 Wildlife
Service permit continues to help growth within the county. The location of roads should reflect
the tortoise needs.
Native Americans have lived in and used this area for over 6,000 years. Sites include
caves, petroglyph panels and roasting pits. Various rock art panels show many generations of
use. With the growth of the surrounding valleys and the popularity of ORV use, these resources
are 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 Route
designation 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, contact
Nancy Hall at

Nancy Hall
Mesquite, NV

Page 6 Summer 2006

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
Relaxin’ in a Great Basin Your caption here!
Mike Colpo — Reno, NV

A 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 the
playa and dancing to the Doors with drunken miners in badger hats at rural gas stations) and as a mentor and
friend, she will be sorely missed!

Page 7 Summer 2006

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 TBD
monthly 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


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