Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Designating the Gold Butte area as a federal wilderness area or wildlife corridor will not help Mesquite financially, nor will it attract hordes of visitors, as a small vocal group of environmentalists claim. It would bring more restrictions and problems to the area. Due to the desert tortoise listing, driving is restricted in some areas, and should you venture onto the wrong undesignated trail, you can be subject to fines of up to $100,000. Wilderness means no roads.
Gold Butte is not a mecca in the desert. For someone to state the area has abundant archaeological resources, including rock art, caves, agave roasting pits and camp sites dating back at least 3,000 years is a gross exaggeration. There is very little to see at the Gold Butte town site or Whitney Pockets; no water, trees or shade. There is some water at Juanita Springs (privately owned) and water at tanks maintained by the Bundy Ranch.
The petroglyphs near Whitney Pockets are definitely not awe-inspiring when you consider the trip is approximately a 250-mile round trip into the Gold Butte area from Las Vegas and about 100 miles round trip from Mesquite on not the best of roads.
As for wildlife, you will see more at the bar in the CasaBlanca casino.