Don’t Reduce National Monument

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MOAPA VALLEY PROGRESS- We are writing to share our opinion about the Gold Butte National Monument. We believe that this landscape is sacred. It is special. It needed and deserved the National Monument designation it was given.

The Moapa Band of Paiutes have subsisted in Moapa Valley since time immemorial. Gold Butte is traditional territory where our ancestors hunted and gathered plants for medicine, food, and fiber. The original reservation boundary for the Moapa Band of Paiutes totaled over 2.4 million acres and included Gold Butte in its entirety. Our reservation was reduced drastically but Gold Butte is still a part of our cultural lifeway. It is one of the few unspoiled remnants of our heritage. The stories of our ancestors are written here.

Another perspective we want to share is that of the thousands of citizens in rural communities surrounding the monument who have, over the past two decades, expressed their support for preserving Gold Butte through letters, petitions, polls, and public statements. We love this land and the knowledge and history found here. Gold Butte is both a museum and a laboratory. The antiquities in Gold Butte tell our collective human story. The unique ecosystems, rocks, and fossils found across the land give the opportunity to expand our understanding of biological and geological processes.

We oppose any effort to reduce the size of Gold Butte National Monument. In fact, we think that the Monument should have been larger to include the northern bajada of the Virgin Mountains. This area is critical habitat for the Mojave Desert tortoise, a living antiquity threatened with extinction. The expanse of Gold Butte National Monument is necessary for two reasons: one, to tell the continuous story of our human relationship with the land and two, to preserve a unique diversity of ecosystems and wildlife populations.

Protecting Gold Butte as a National Monument does not mean closing it off. Rather, the monument designation ensures that all people can continue to enjoy it for generations to come. This means implementing land management practices that protect natural and cultural resources from damage, degradation and decline and, at the same time, ensure that access to the resources is safe, responsible, and respectful.

We believe that land management is a collective, community responsibility. A love for the land is our common ground. What better gift to leave to our children than a magical place that tells the story of our collective humanity, that allows us to wonder at its spectacular natural phenomena, and stand in awe of its amazing beauty.

We hope that Senator Heller will join with Senator Cortez Masto, Congressman Kihuen, Congresswoman Titus, Congresswoman Rosen, and the Nevada State Legislature in supporting the Gold Butte National Monument. It is a treasure for the communities in Moapa Valley, Virgin Valley and the City of Mesquite.

Darren Daboda
Chairman, 
Moapa Band of Paiutes

Jaina Moan
Executive Director, 
Friends of Gold Butte

LETTER: Don’t Reduce National Monument