A letter from Tom on the conditions at Mt. Charleston and the possible detrimental affect of unchecked development:
Thank you for your recent show of support for AB 352, which extends the kind of protections created for the Red Rock Conservation Area to the rest of the Spring Mountains, of which Red Rock is but one significant part.
I have been a part of the Mt Charleston area since 1956, when my family first moved here to make it our home. During my lifetime, I have witnessed the effects of the gradual encroachments of urban growth and development and the disappearance of qualities this area had when the first European settlers came upon it. Not all is lost, of course, but the recent growth of Las Vegas and the volume of visitors to the area now place great pressures on what remains of “God’s Country”.
I want to give you just one of many examples that can illustrate this to you, and others who may not be as intimately familiar with the details of what the area is facing, and why AB 352 is so important. I hope you will take a moment to take this in and add it to your reasons for support, if you don’t know these facts already.
Due to harsh winters and some distance from the urban center, of the homes now standing in these mountains, we typically average around a 10 to 15% year-round occupancy. The rest of our property owners are part time residents, mostly during the Summer months. As you know, our entire region is troubled by general drought patterns that are believed will continue indefinitely into the future. Fortunately, this year’s and last year’s precipitation has been greater than average for these patterns, and our water table will be sufficient for this year.
But, year before last, a year of low precipitation on top of several dry years, caused a situation where we were living on the edge of general well failure. What well failure would mean, we were told by the Water District folks, is that nothing would come out of our taps, and they would have to truck water 35 miles, up 5000 feet of elevation to make the community livable. That, in a system not designed for such a contingency, means, “Bring your jugs to fill from the trucks.” We were asked to curtail water use and employ conservation measures like installing shut-offs in shower heads, and saving bath water for flushing our toilets.
What this also means, in relevance to AB 352, is that if the population of year-round residents, that 10-15%, were to be increased just among the existing homes, without building a single new dwelling, will increase the likelihood of a well failure scenario, during the kind of drought condition years that are also likely to come in the future. This alone poses a threat to the viability of these small communities, as well as recreational uses, fire suppression capabilities, etc.
This is just one of the reasons that AB 352 is not only a modest proposal, in the right direction, but necessary. I hope this begins to tell why this bill has such support as unanimous endorsements by the Town Boards of the resident communities and the kind of broad support from organizations and individuals who have environmental and recreation interests in the whole Spring Mountain Range.
This is also why I urge you and your colleagues not only to move this bill out from the Committee to the Assembly floor, but to do whatever you can from there to see it through all the necessary steps to its landing on the Governor’s desk for his signature. I can also assure you that there is much more to this story, and should any questions or doubts arise, the members of these communities will be more than willing to respond with whatever is necessary.
Thank you again, now and long into the future,