Grassroots organization Save Red Rock was in the spotlight last year for its “Keep Red Rock Rural” campaign against urban encroachment. But that was just a side effort.
Cyclist Heather Fisher founded Save Red Rock after the tragic death of her friend and fellow cyclist, Metro Officer Don Albietz. He was struck by an 18-wheeler while cycling on Red Rock Canyon’s 159 Scenic Byway in 2005.
“Ever since my friend died, it’s been a dream and a passion to create a separate bike path where people can enjoy Red Rock safely without fearing for their lives,” Fisher says. Her group has already achieved several safety victories: lowering the speed limit, banning commercial trucking and building burro fencing and bike lanes on Highway 159. But the goal of creating a vast network of paved, car-free bike trails connecting neighborhoods with nature has been more challenging.
The group used a $2 million grant from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (SNPLMA) to scout potential trails and conduct an environmental assessment. It came up with six or seven zones where trails could go. Possibilities include Summerlin to the Red Rock Visitors Center; Spanish Trail to a Mountain’s Edge connector to Mustang Trails.
“We handed [the results] over to BLM and then nothing happened for 10 years,” Fisher says. “Every so often, we’d check in, ask how the project’s coming—nothing.”
BLM and the Nevada Department of Transportation were supportive of the project. But nobody seemed to have the resources to make it happen.
“This summer, we decided to take it back into our own hands, to create a coalition to try to get work done for the BLM,” Fisher says.
She figures if her group does all the work, the bureau can simply approve the project. She finds out this month if the bike path will receive a $7 million Federal Lands Access Program grant. That should be enough to build the first loop, from Summerlin to the Visitors Center, which Fisher hopes will garner momentum for the remainder.
One catch: The grant requires matching funds. So for now, Save Red Rock is busy fundraising (learn more at saveredrock.com). “We’re very, very passionate and serious,” Fisher says. “It’s been a dream dead in the water for so long. I won’t let it fizzle out again.”
This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.