Still time to protect Black Rock as wild

I agree with Kent Cartwright's feeling that the Black Rock NCA should not be like Red Rock in southern Nevada (Don't let Black Rock become like Red Rock, April 23). Fortunately, Nevadans still have time to do what it takes to make sure the Black Rock receives adequate protection.

A key point in this debate is that NCA (National Conservation Area) legislation is bill-specific. This means that the Red Rocks bill and subsequent management plans allowed for and encouraged construction of paved roads, toilets and other facilities in the Red Rocks area. There was no wilderness designation for this beautiful area, preventing primitive camping like we have in the Black Rock, the kind people like myself and Kent Cartwright enjoy.

The Black Rock NCA is different because it specifically calls for wilderness designation for 11 Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) that frame and protect the Applegate Lassen Trail. A competing citizen's proposal goes even further, recommending wilderness for the Razor Canyon and Emigrant Arch areas, the latter a 40,000 acre area that borders the trail along Double Hot Springs. (For those who are not familiar with those springs, they are on private land, and the owner, a California rancher named John Estill, says he want to put a geothermal plant there.)

Thus, Red Rocks has become a "toilets and roads" ersatz wilderness because the legislation did not add the area to the Wilderness Preservation System. The Black Rock NCA will have great access to 11 or 13 spectacular wilderness areas that together form a mosaic unlike any other in the American West. Roads need not be paved, camping sites need not be rationed, the area need not become an artificial representation of what it was. We just have to support the Black Rock NCA and we'll be able to share the beauty and wildness of the place with generations to come.


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