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Nevada Wilderness Project

Spring 2006

Spring Time!
I think he’s beautiful. nap. Their metabolism falls to 20% during their hi-
bernation, which is a good thing as they still lose up
It might be the bump between his eyes. Mmmm,
to half of their weight in water and fat reserves. Be-
mmm, mmm, h-a-n-d-s-o-m-e. Of course, you can’t forget
cause the male we saw had just emerged from the
about those orange bumps all over his back. Woooweee,
rains a few days earlier, he was pretty
sexy! And who could resist such stubby legs, broad waist
svelte. By now I’m sure he’s nice and
and pug nose?? Just perfect.
plump. Delicious.
We met him on our hike out to Gold Butte in
I know that our guy was definitely at
southeastern Nevada. He was just hanging out by the wa-
least two years old, because by that age
ter, having a good old time. All of us women on the trip
Spadefoot Toads are sexually mature --
couldn’t resist his bodily charms. I have to admit it: I
and our guy was definitely sexually ma-
usually don’t do this at watering holes, but I picked him
ture. Within a matter of days he had
up. Yep, that’s right! Was my heart racing or what? I
found his territory on the pond’s edge
was so excited to be the initiator that I forgot my senses Nancy Beecher
and was calling out to the ladies. The
and shared him with the rest of the women! After we were
call, yet another sexy trait, has been described as a
through with him I think he was a little overwhelmed, but
grating snore-like quack (“gwaa”) and can attract
we left him in the same exact place we found him, and he
females for quite a distance. The ladies of course get
was completely unharmed.
the pleasure of checking out the males and perhaps
Now, I certainly do NOT suggest that all of you la- letting one mount them. This is not unlike the Las
dies out there follow my lead. As I said, I usually don’t Vegas club scene.
pick up men at watering holes, but this was a special oc-
In only 2-3 days after the female and male
casion. I was giving the Nevada Wilderness Project’s Gold
release their eggs and sperm into the pond water,
Butte campers a closer look at the splendid Great Basin
the fertilized eggs hatch into tiny tadpoles. The tad-
Spadefoot Toad.
poles are so small (millimeters) that you wouldn’t
even know they were tadpoles, except that they are
Those of us at Gold Butte that day -- Mackenzie, Dean, oblong, have a shape and occasionally wiggle.
Cameron, Nancy 1, John and Lynn, Debra, Tory and my- Within a week, however, these tadpoles have a full
self -- were lucky to see that toad. You see, Gold Butte is suite of functioning organs, most very much like you
at the very southern tip of the Great and me -- spleens, livers, hearts, intestinal tracts,
Basin Spadefoot Toad’s range, and the thymus glands, you name it. You can’t even see
adults are only sporadically out at the some of their organs with your naked eye, but they
ponds under excellent breeding condi- are there.
tions. Any further south or on any Continued on page 3
other day, and we probably would have
Tory Garrason
never even known he was there.
If we had hiked in Gold Butte just one week ear- In this Issue:
lier, that toad would have been underground where he Spring Time!- pg. 1
had been for the last seven months. Underground is
Volunteer Spotlight, Business Spotlight,
where spadefoot toads hibernate outside of their breeding
season. When it’s time to go down, & Director’s Corner - pg. 2
they make circles with their big back Great Basin Spadefoot Toad continued - pg. 3
toes that are shaped like spades
(handsome and talented!), and they Gold Butte Update - pg. 4
Al Richmond
back themselves into the soil or in an NWP Fundraising & Caption Contest - pg. 5
abandoned small mammal burrow and take a long winter WILD Calendar - pg. 6
Nevada Wilderness Volunteer Spotlight: The Earth Day Crew!
8550 White Fir Street One of things that I believe makes NWP so special and
Reno, NV 89523 more effective than other advocacy groups is that our
members are given the opportunity to be directly in-
775.746.7850 volved in our work. This edition’s volunteer spotlight falls on four volunteers who helped make our three Earth
Day events a huge success. Vanessa Belz, Kristen
501 (c) (3) non-profit Ashbaugh, Cali Crampton, and Andy Mitchell help col-
corporation lect a thousand letters in support of protecting our wild
places in White Pine and Washoe Counties.
Carson City Earth Day, photo by Leslie Bensinger
For those who have not ever worked at or visited a Earth
NWP Board of Directors
Day celebration it can be a lot like a mall on the day after Thanksgiving. Complete
Bret Birdsong, President pandemonium! You have people coming from all directions, asking all sorts of ques-
Brian O’Donnell, Vice President tions, wanting to sign letters, buy a t-shirt, or just grab a bumper sticker. It is an
Chris Todd impossible task for one person and more than enough for two or three to handle. Our
Morlee Griswold volunteers are not only up to date on the issues at hand they are also the best
Tori King spokespeople we have. They can recount tales of adventure and mishap in the back-
Lynn Schiek
country with us, explain how we provide opportunities for them to get involved, and
attest to the overall fun that is the Nevada Wilderness Project. As our newest volun-
teer, Vanessa Belz told me rather plainly the other day, “As much as I like hanging
NWP Staff
out with you Cameron you’re only 10% of the reason why I’m here, 90% is because I
John Wallin, Director care about the issue,” which is exactly the way we think it should be too.
Kristie Connolly, Associate Director
Nancy Beecher, Conservation Dir.
Erika Pollard, Nat’l Outreach Dir. Business Spotlight:
Mackenzie Banta, Development Dir.
Cameron Johnson, N. Outreach Dir.
Cynthia Scholl, Membership Coord.
Nancy Hall, Gold Butte Org.

Coalition Partners
Campaign for America’s Wilderness Have you heard? Your web searches can benefit the Nevada Wilderness Project!
Friends of Nevada Wilderness
Logon to, a Yahoo search engine that contributes $0.01 to
your charity choice for every time you search the web. Just type the Nevada Wil-
Nevada Outdoor Recreation Assoc.
derness Project into the field asking for a charity name and search away!
Red Rock Audubon Society
Sierra Club - Toiyabe Chapter Ditch Google and make a difference by doing what you do everyday.
The Wilderness Society
Director’s Corner— New Beginnings

This month we bid a fond farewell to our friend and colleague Kevin Mack, who has been
named Vice President for Conservation Programs at the Potomac Conservancy in Silver Spring,
NWP Maryland.
Mission Statement Kevin is in every sense of the word a founder of the Nevada Wilderness Project. Hired just
two months after I left Patagonia to work on wilderness full time, Kevin’s fingerprints are on every
successful aspect of our organization. He started as our Inventory Coordinator, overseeing the chal-
The Nevada Wilderness lenging and detailed fieldwork operation that drives our advocacy. As a small organization, each of
Project is committed to us is required at different times to wear many hats to fulfill our mission. To Kevin’s credit and our
saving spectacular, rug- salvation, his efficient jack-of-all-trades abilities made us a better organization at every turn.
ged-and imperiled-public
For the last four years, Kevin has served as the Washington Representative of the Project,
lands in Nevada as
acting as an effective and good humored conduit for our grassroots feedback to the Nevada Congres-
Wilderness, the strong- sional delegation. Kevin’s unique skill sets range from the biological (he’s an accomplished birder),
est protection possible. to the technical (he taught himself how to use our complicated mapping software, ArcView),
Continued on page 5

Page 2 Spring 2006

Great Basin Spadefoot Toad

From this point on, it takes 4-6 weeks for these Spadefoot Toad tadpoles to fully develop. They grow, their
organs improve, and they become strong and agile. Of course, this is thanks to their well-rounded diet.
They eat algae, leaves, aquatic plants, their own feces... each other....

And then they metamorphose. Everybody knows about metamorphosis. It’s a tadpole turning into a frog,
an caterpillar into a moth, Franz Kafka into a butterfly. But when you think about it, metamorphosis is
amazing. A huge portion of the inside and outside of the animal is broken down and recreated. Entire
organs are dismantled and rebuilt. Gills are completely absorbed and lungs are created from scratch.
Legs are grown, with the back legs developing on the outside of the body
and the front legs under the surface of the skin. When the front legs pop
out (ouch), the metamorphs crawl out of the water, and for the next week
they get all of their nutrition from their tail being slowly reabsorbed into
their body. Not a bad trick, indeed.

In the desert, all of this is extra risky business. Spadefoot Toad tadpoles
often develop in temporary ponds in the desert -- in other words, ponds
Nancy Beecher
that dry up under the hot, hot sun. That pond in Gold Butte where we
found our handsome fella? That had just been a dry indentation in the soil
and rock a week prior to our visit, and I don’t dare to wonder if it’s still around. The sky will not provide
frequent rain, the sun will evaporate the water, and the pond will certainly dry up.
The tadpoles sense this impending doom. They can tell when the pond is losing water and they get
stressed out, just like you or I would. In fact, the stress hormone that they produce is pretty much the
exact same stress hormone that you and I and many other organisms produce, thanks to evolutionary in-
heritance. You may have heard about it: cortisol. Single working mothers and pressured fathers have
loads of it. So do pregnant mothers -- and fetuses -- when something is wrong in the womb. But where
we may go into premature labor, some tadpoles metamorphose early into frogs. This phenomenal evolu-
tionary adaptation helps ensure that instead of shriveling up as a dead tadpole in a dried pond bed,
Spadefoot Toads can go from egg to tadpole to toad in just a couple of weeks.
While many frog and toad species around the world are in serious decline, some even facing per-
manent extinction, the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad seems to be doing OK (at least in Nevada). It can live
in forest as well as desert, and it resides in a number of western U.S. states. Nonetheless, I am writing
this article because the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad is a species that deserves our attention.
We humans seem to focus so much on species in dire need that we forget to
pay attention to the species that appear to be doing just fine. We forget to put our
efforts into recognizing the communities of plants and animals and other living biota
that are out there defining our landscape. We fight to save remnants of diminishing
habitats, which is an admirable effort for sure, but meanwhile fail to conserve the
larger landscapes of healthy living beings.
To do this would be more fruitful than waiting until near-extinction and pan-
icking. To do this would entail valuing the amazing evolutionary adaptations that
organisms have developed over thousands and millions of years. To do this would
require the recognition of what it takes to have healthy, persistent communities of Nancy Beecher
organisms and ecosystems. To do this would require forethought and wisdom.
I see forethought and wisdom in my colleagues and our vision to protect Nevada’s wilderness. I see
forethought and wisdom in those of you who are reading these very words. And I thank you.

In 2002, the Nevada Wilderness Coalition proposed a number of areas in the Gold Butte region for Wilder-
ness designation. While some areas did achieve Wilderness status, approximately 90% of the proposed ar-
eas did not. We continue to advocate for their protection.

Page 3 Spring 2006

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

The Las Vegas BLM will hold informational meetings for the designation of roads in the Gold Butte area.
The objective is to protect critical habitat for the Desert Tortoise and the cultural and scenic resources while
meeting the access needs of recreational users. The meetings are from 5PM to 8PM:
May 31, Las Vegas, interagency office 4701 North Torrey Pines
June 1, Logandale/Moapa, Ron Lewis Fine Arts Building, Clark
County fairgrounds
June 6, Mesquite, Mesquite city Hall
June 8, Bunkerville, Gym next to Community Center

Anyone interested, but unable to attend a meeting, contact the BLM

702-515-5292 or and request placement on
the mailing list.

Comments are needed expressing concern for the protection of Wilder- Example of parallel two tracks in the Gold Butte Area.
ness quality areas such as Garrett Butte and Bitter Ridge, Mojave De-
sert habitat, and cultural resources like the petroglyphs that are hidden throughout the area. Identified by
several agencies as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, the transportation plan should prioritize this
requirement. In addition, washes are a dynamic and intricate part of this ecosystem, and should be scruti-
nized in the designation and not left open for off road vehicle travel. Questions related to this spectacular
area? Please contact Nancy Hall at

Nancy Hall
Gold Butte Organizer

Nancy Hall is our newest face here at NWP and we could not be happier. Nancy has
been a superstar volunteer with us for the past six years or so and was successful in
making the Mormon Mountains a place that Congress could not ignore. Today, the
Mormon Mountains is a wilderness area of over 157,000 acres! Nancy loves this
mountain range, but also has a special place in her heart for the Gold Butte region
south of Mesquite. We are ecstatic to have Nancy join our team from her home in Mes-
quite where she will work on behalf of the threatened wilderness landscape of this
Nancy is married with grandkids and has a penchant for ham (in sandwhich form) and her garden (her
name for the Mormon Mountains). While volunteering for wilderness she has also devoted herself to the
protection of Nevada's rich archaelogical heritage and is a Site Steward for the BLM, working to catalogue
and police the rich cultural sites of southern Nevada. Nancy is a pretty good birder, (she can spell
Phainopepla), and is fearless enough to come back to DC to advocate for wilderness in Clark and Lincoln
Counties AND eat a full Ethiopean meal!
Nancy will be working closely with Nancy Beecher and the rest of our team to see that Gold Butte is given
the conservation attention that it so richly deserves.
Mrs. Hall has never been to the Black Rock Desert, which puts it at the top of her "To do" list for Ne-
vada. Rumor has it that she has never seen the Pacific Ocean, which is either a testament to a bad sense of
direction (which she did not bring up in the interview), or it might derive from the fact that she is a reformed
Florida "beach bum".
Please help us welcome Nancy to NWP and if you are ever in the far eastern reaches of Clark County and
need some directions in Gold Butte or the Mormon Mountains, give us a call, we now have a not-so secret
weapon on the team!

Page 4 Spring 2006

NWP Fundraising Update from Mackenzie

Keep your eyes posted for the July/August addition of the Reno
Magazine. Featured will be Cameron Johnson and myself, repre-
senting the Nevada Wilderness Project! We were asked to model
‘eco-friendly’ clothing in exchange for a bit of publicity for our work.
Just one more glamorous aspect of our jobs! Next time you see Cam-
eron out at a tabling event or in the field, be sure to comment on his
high cheek bones and the new sway in his step. Or ask me how I
have been able to fend off the paparazzi! Don’t worry; we won’t let
our fame lessen our commitment to the land!
- Mackenzie Banta, Development Director

St. Patrick’s Day House Party

The Nevada Wilderness Project helped to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Durney ladies at a fund-
raising house party. Thank you Martha, Sarah and Carmen Durney for opening up your home to us and
helping support our work. Part of our success as an organization is our ability to share out passion with
new people; by telling our story and talking one-on-one with folks. House parties are a wonderful, in-
formal event our members can host to help us strengthen our work. Please feel free to contact me if you
are interested in hosting an event via email,

Caption Contest!
In effort to inject a little more hu-
Your caption here
mor into our daily lives, we’re ask-
ing people to submit captions for
our photos. To the right you’ll find
a photo, submit the winning caption
and receive prize as well as your
name and caption in print in the fol-
lowing newsletter. Please email
submissions to
Doggone Wild!
Robert and Julia Payne of Reno are our first winners!

and the political (respected on both sides of the aisle in DC and an astute observer of human behavior). And as those who know him well
will tell you, he is sneaky funny! Project staff and volunteers cherish the memories of Kevin’s dry wit and healthy sense of the absurd, and
how enjoyable they made the average workday. For those who do not know him personally, that is him in the bathtub up above.
On a personal note, I am grateful for Kevin’s friendship over the years. I marvel at my good fortune to have stumbled upon a
passionate and purposeful friendship whose insights, perspective, and humor have made the world (and this corner of it) a better place. I
know that Nevada is in his blood, and he’ll find a way to stay connected to the people and landscape for which he worked so hard.
Kevin’s new professional pursuits allow him to use some different tools on different conservation challenges closer to his home in
Bethesda, MD, where he and his wife Laura have lived since leaving Nevada in 2002. We wish them both an abundance of everything
Kevin has given us in the last seven years—good luck, much laughter, healthy perspective, and success wherever life’s journey takes

Page 5 Spring 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 -

May 17th —Wilderness Slide Show in Carson City
Photo © Kristie Connolly Join NWP for a fun and exotic tour of Nevada’s wildest places. Learn what efforts are being
taken to protect places in the Great Basin as wilderness and how you can become involved!
Please join us for our The show begins at 7:30 at Comma Coffee, 312 S. Carson St., Carson City
monthly volunteer night at
May 20th— Wilderness Values Trip to Bald Mountain, Lyon Co.
Reno’s Great Basin
Brewery June 2-3— Wilderness Values Trip on the East Walker River, Lyon Co.
( This is a very popular trip and space is limited. If interested please contact Cameron at
June 15th— Volunteer Opportunity at the Sparks Farmer’s Market
June 24th– Wilderness Values Trip to East Sister Peak, Lyon Co.

Southern Nevada Events -

Please contact Nancy Hall at if interested.
May 20th— Wilderness Values Trip to the Mudd Hills
May 24th— Wilderness Values Trip to Mudd Hills
May 16th, 6-8pm June 17th— Wildernes Values Trip to Gold Butte
June 20th, 6-8pm June 24h— Wilderness Values Trip to the Virgin Mountains
July 18th, 6-8pm Cover Photo by Howard Booth


It’s easy to help… Cut out this form and mail it to: NV Wilderness Project, 8550 White Fir St; Reno, NV 89523

Enclosed is my donation of: I would like to make a recurring donation:

Every 3 months
$50.00 Annually

Please include check or money or-
Name Phone Number
$250.00 der payable to:
Nevada Wilderness Project.
For secure credit card
Other Amount: ____________ transactions, please visit Email address City State Zip

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