GUEST COLUMN:

Protect and respect Spirit Mountain

Aristotle once said, “in all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous.” For you, the marvel may be the beauty that expands beyond possible reach. For others, it may be the fresh inhale of air that fills their lungs with Mother Nature’s sweet breath. Within each marvel lies the spirit of the outdoors, the spirit that draws each of us back time and again.

In Nevada, we are fortunate to have a rich backyard full of wonders, but it is not a luxury we should take for granted. The trails we hike, the animals we admire and the picturesque views we can’t help but Instagram are at risk. That is why Save Red Rock is proud to support the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument.

Avi Kwa Ame, also known as Spirit Mountain, is home to a rich habitat of captivating flora and fauna. Across 380,000 acres of desert, tortoises, wild grasses, gila monsters, golden eagles, joshua trees, bighorn sheep and so many others thrive. A national monument designation of this area would not only protect these native species but also conserve nationally significant natural, cultural, historic and recreational values.

The entire area in the proposed monument is considered sacred by the 10 Yuman speaking tribes. It is tied to their creation, cosmology and well-being. By protecting this sacred land, we can honor the Native cultural sites while respectfully observing the “living laboratory” that is the Eastern Mojave Desert.

Imagine bulldozing a centuries-old church, temple or sacred shrine to build houses. This is their temple, their sacred shrine, their identity. In a long history at one with nature, their history book is their footprints, handprints, art and the land itself. We must respect the history of the indigenous people of the Avi Kwa Ame as we would like ours to be respected.

The proposed monument would also provide numerous health benefits to our community. As the pandemic has swiftly changed our lives, we have found in Red Rock Canyon that more people are getting outdoors and exploring. Nature does wonders for our mental health and well-being. The monument would protect recreational uses of the land, such as camping, hiking and backcountry driving. This promotes healthy outdoor habits while exposing families to the beauty of wild lands.

Save Red Rock is dedicated to preserving and conserving the desert. It has dedicated the past 19 years to preventing development at Red Rock. It is imperative that our community express the same effort to protect Spirit Mountain. Avi Kwa Ame National Monument would protect native plants and wildlife, preserve sacred Native American cultural sites, extend recreational uses and prevent fragmentation of the natural landscape.

In all things nature, there is certainly something marvelous. From the sunny desert skies to the humble tortoise, it is our duty to protect these marvels so generations to come can marvel as well.

Heather Fisher is president of Save Red Rock.