by Max Wilbert / Deep Green Resistance Great Basin
As a kid, I pictured Nevada as a wasteland of sand and cacti. Today, I know better.
For the past five years, I’ve been packing up my truck every spring and taking a long day to drive to eastern Nevada to bask in the glory of one of the least densely-populated areas of the United States.
The broad valleys never fail to stun me, but most amazing are the mountains, limestone peaks arcing into the sky. Springs and creeks flowing from the hills support rich riparian zones and bring in birds and other wildlife from miles around. Antelope, deer, elk, and wild horses cross the valleys or stick to forested patches. This region is lush, biodiverse, and beautiful.
It’s also under threat. Across eastern Nevada, the Southern Nevada Water Authority seeks to build dozens of massive groundwater wells and pump almost every drop of water south to feed Las Vegas developments. The project has been a battle between locals and developers from Vegas for decades, and still drags on.
Another major threat is felling pinyon pine and juniper forests across not just this region, but the entire intermountain west. Ranchers have been doing this for decades to remove pesky trees getting in the way of their grass—and more importantly, their profit. As overgrazing continues to desertify Nevada—it’ll look like Iraq in another 100 years—removing trees allows ranchers to maintain the illusion that overstocking can continue indefinitely.
Countless people, including myself, are mobilizing to fight like hell for this land, this water, and these forests. We aim to stop these destructive projects by exposing their true nature and—if necessary—standing in their way.
There is a lot more to these stories, but I don’t have time to share it all here. Instead, I’d like to invite you to join myself and other community members, indigenous people, activists, ecologists, photographers, and families for the fifth annual Sacred Water, Sacred Forests Camp.
The camp takes place over Memorial Day weekend, May 27 to 29, near the town of Ely and Great Basin National Park. If you’re interested in attending, you can RSVP on the Facebook event page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope to be able to introduce you to this important, imperiled area in a few weeks.
Max Wilbert is a community organizer based in western Oregon who considers Nevada a second home.