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Friends Of Gold Butte Work To Keep National Monument Designation In Place

This week Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released a report on recommendations for the status of national monuments among the monuments affected is Gold Butte, which is just outside of Mesquite.

The report is not clear what Zinke's recommendation on Gold Butte is.

It does say that the boundaries of the monument should be revised to "ensure that the monument is limited to the smallest area compatible with the protection of objects identified and protect historic water rights."

Jaina Moan is the executive director of Friends of Gold Butte, which is advocating to keep the monument designation as it is, but the group has been working for years to get the area set aside as a national monument.

"The report is very vague," Moan told KNPR's State of Nevada, "We actually don't know how much. The report did not specify the exact acreage or amount of land to be removed from the national monument." 

Moan was also not sure what the report meant by "protect historic water rights" because water rights for the water district were already outlined in the proclamation creating the monument.

“It appears they’re trying to remove some of those springs from the monument boundary but I’m not clear what benefit that would provide for them," she said.

Support comes from

That is not the end of the confusion for advocates for the national monument. In the report, there is a request to fix inaccuracies in grazing rights in the area. 

However, Moan pointed out that grazing has not been allowed in areas controlled by the BLM since the 90s when the desert tortoise was designated a threatened species.  

She also pushed back against the idea outlined in the report that opinions of those living near the monument were ignored. Moan said her group delivered 90,000 comments that were collected in the six weeks of public comments this past summer alone.

And she believes it was Secretary Zinke who did not listen to the opinions of locals during his visit.

“His review did not consider the opinions of the thousands of people who live here in the Las Vegas area and up in Mesquite who express support for the national monument," she said, "We didn’t even get a chance to say our piece.”

There is no word on when Sec. Zinke will announce any changes to Gold Butte.

“We hope it will be soon because right now Gold Butte is in limbo and that’s shame because there are lots of really good things happening out on the land,” Moan said.

She said research and restoration projects are already underway. She believes if the Trump administration would let the management planning process for the monument go forward many of concerns expressed by those opposed to the designation would be addressed.

Guests

Jaina Moan, executive director, Friends of Gold Butte 

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