Monday, May 9, 2011

The Wilderness of Gold Butte

For some time now I have had the BLMs map of their proposal for turning Gold Butte (and Bunkerville Flats) into a WILDERNESS AREA, glaring at me from the middle of my desk top, not knowing what else to do with it except look at it and shake my head in disgust.

Frankly, as a useable map for making an assessment leading to meaningful comment, it is completely worthless; there, I said it. It is nothing more than an enhanced clone of the map the Las Vegas BLM field office foisted on us when they went through and systematically closed close to fifty or so trail segments a couple of years ago. That map was completely worthless to the public, and so is this.

Absolutely NO geo-location marks! Absolutely no latitude or longitude markings! No road names. For the most part NO readable, meaningful labels! All this leaving even the most basic understanding of where things are, woefully complex and time consuming; beyond what most reasonable people are either able or willing to undertake. Then there's obsessive-compulsive me.

I have spent hundreds of hours geo-coding map overlays into Google Earth, and even more producing trail maps for this particular area. Perhaps my skills at it are a bit above average, if for no other reason than sheer practice. But, I have to say, making sense of this map was about the most difficult project I've done in a long time. It's taken months of starts and resarts to complete.

Even getting the BLMs graphic – which they insist on keeping protected inside the proprietary format (.pdf) established by a for-profit company (Adobe) for the express purpose of making files hard for people like you and I to use – took hours of manipulation.

Then, resizing and overlaying it onto actual real-world geographic coordinates came after that; and, I want to tell you, was no less cumbersome. One could easily get the impression that the BLM might NOT want people to really know what they are doing.

I am pleased to announce, however, that I have completed the project and there is now a Google Earth file of all the areas that Ms. Gayle Marrs-Smith, Susan Holecheck and lobbyist Nancy Hall are trying to turn into ATV-ORV prohibited wilderness areas.   [The free Google Earth file of this Wilderness plan is available at: Google Earth Trail FileOffroading Home.] If you'd like, download the map and look at it while I explain a bit about it and how to use it.

Official or Un-Official

First – even though you will plainly see the actual BLM released map overlaid on the Google Earth, it must be taken with the same disclaimers that the BLM makes for its map; namely, that it can't be considered accurate - at least for the purpose of telling where "exactly" the boundaries are. Like I said, they have made absolutely NO effort in even mentioning a geographic survey number of any kind.

Second – Because there were no given registration marks, the registration was done by meticulous analysis of landmarks and trial-and-error scaling, rotation and translation until they all matched as close a humanly possible; and,

Third – After that, of necessity, the clickable colored polygons were created by tracing by hand around the boundaries on the overlay.

A Real Eye-Opener!

So, even though you won't settle boundary disputes with this map, it will be a real Eye Opener! You all know that Nevada is one of the most highly-federally owned state in the union. Large numbers of wildnerness areas already exist all over the state, not to mention military bases, refuges, regulated areas and just plain expanses that they have claimed rights to.

But, seeing what the "huggers" want to foist on us actually layed out on a globe, now labeled with places you recognize, will definitely astound, and (should) dismay you. Literally: They want to close off everything from the city border of Bunkerville to Lake Mead and from the Virgin River to the Arizona border! The only reason they stopped where they did was because another federal agency owned it!

National Conservation Area - with "multiple use" and wilderness

This title is so close to being an outright lie that you can feel the bullet's heat as it whizzes through your hair. Make a survey of how many NCA's around the country actually allow any type of offroad vehicle to even enter its borders. SO, what you and I use as a definition of "multiple use" does NOT seem to be what the Harry Reid supporters are using.

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Holecheck uses the "spin-doctoring" rhetoric that she "want's to be able to have a say in how the land is used!" The truth is that she (or us) will have no more say in how the land is used than we do right now (ie public, but largely ignored, comment) and most assuredly even less. And what about the people of Bunkerville? THEY DON'T want it!

The truth is: that any so-called committee appointed (by who?) to discuss what might be allowed in the area bounded by the thick red line will be absolutely required to use the mother-may-I Federal Play-Book for NCA's. Do YOU know what it is? Neither does Holecheck; and despite being asked numerous times, she hasn't made any obvious effort to find out.

Excluded Lands

So, what might they mean by the term "multi-use"? It can be nothing except what is already forced on them because specific tracs already have federal regulation attached to them. The Gold Butte Backcountry Byway (white line) would take another act of congress to overturn it's designation. But, that doesn't mean that the BLM (it's designated manager) must continue to allow ATVs or any other ORV type to use it.

It should be no suprise that about the only "non-red" areas on the map are around the byway! All the green area is severely restricted already by the Lake Mead National Recreation Area; but, ironically, just may turn out to be less restrictive by only making the requirement for "street legality."

The large track's of purple area are already existing (and closed to everyone except hikers) wilderness areas! And the unmarked area down at the southwest tip is so far distant (about a two hour travel time one way just to get there) so as to be virtually unvisited even now.

Wilderness Areas

Don't have any dreams about visiting any of the areas marked in red if you are a senior. They are pretty much designated as the exclusive domain for the Harry Reid campaign donors – the Sierra Club hikers. And notice how there are eleven of them, with different names? Might that be so any one of them doesn't set off red flags as to their excessive size? Or so that if one of them gets shot down, it won't affect the others? Several of them, expand already existing wilderness areas.

Using The Map

You are able to turn on and off almost all of the items on the map as you navigate in and out to look at any one area. I have placed a couple of key landmarks on the map which most everyone should be able to recognize and be able to get their bearings.

As you zoom in closer, even more landmarks will appear. Additionally, you can load any other of our Offroading Home maps onto the same screen and see how it will be affected by this proposal. The actual BLM graphic may be too dark in some areas to see the landmark that you want, so it can be turned off as well leaving only the transparent, hand-colorings that I've made.

There is an additional overlay of the existing Jumbo Wilderness that you can turn on if you desire, as well as the same "Lake Mead NRA" boundary line that we've used in other maps.

There you have it. This should at least help you understand the magnitude of what the Reid/Holecheck/Hall proposals will do to The Butte and Bunkerville Flats if they have their way. Let me know if you spot anything else that could be added to make it more useful.

Learn A Little More

Speaking of celestial navigation – a short time ago I watched a really interesting description of the use of an ASTROLABE. I'd heard about them, of course, and I've even seen one up close; but no one had ever taught me how to use one.

One might assume that as technology advances that we would get smarter, and more connected to the world. Professor Tom Wujec explains what one is, how to use it and what society has lost by embracing the iPhone.

Using an Astrolabe


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