Hallelujah, a huge miracle is coming to Lincoln County—–DOPE. It is promised to be the savior for all our problems here. Just think, when the money from the business starts rolling in, we’ll be able to pave all roads in the county with real asphalt——-NOT. Our little school district here in a state that ranks dead last in the country for education will have so much money to work with that we will soar to number one in just a year——-NOT. We’ll get to build a 50-story state of the art hospital with a hundred doctors and all of us in the county will have perfect and free health care——-NOT.
One just needs to look at the massive influx of money that has come to Clark County since they started selling dope down there. When I look, I just don’t see one ounce of evidence that they have made any improvements to the place with their landfall, or that the flow is what they claim it to be. A few business people are living large peddling their product to the public, or growing it, but has the average “joe” seen any of the money? Look at Colorado. Show me the evidence that their massive money flow has made huge improvements for them. Every place that starts selling the stuff claims the money is going to go to education—–really?
One thing for sure though is that we have discovered that there are lots more dopers out there than anyone ever knew. Wow, they all get to come out of the closet. Why is it that this country is so saturated with drugs? Why is it that our people here find a much higher need for using drugs than many other developed countries? Oh well, who cares because our miracle cometh and we should all rejoice.
Thomas Mitchell’s article concerning the reopening of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) “Little” Ash Springs gave no consideration to us, the private property owners of “Big” Ash Springs. Although our response is lengthy, we hope you can publish it in its entirety out of fairness to us and to better inform your readership.
For over 13 years my wife and I have had the desire, plans and resources to reopen Big Ash Springs, but have not been given the freedom to do so. The reasons have been ever changing, and complex, as you will read.
As a matter of background information, the Ash Springs ecosystem is composed of two parts, the very small area (about one third of an acre, commonly known as Little Ash) consisting of several warm water springs and owned by the BLM. The much larger portion, connected to and directly downstream from the BLM property, commonly known as Big Ash, is owned by my wife and myself. Our portion of the springs is 13 acres with over 50 warm water springs. Together, the Ash Springs ecosystem is an oasis for migratory birds and bats. In fact, it supports many different species of wildlife and plant life not found in other areas. It is also the only habitat of the federally listed endangered species of White River spring fish and directly feeds the habitat for the federally listed endangered round-tail chub.
For years, Big Ash was the swimming hole and camping destination for people locally and throughout Nevada, complete with RV hookups, campsites and a homemade slide that that both terrified and delighted.
When we came to town it was our immediate intention to reopen it just the way it had been, with some improvements. These included a café in the old “arcade” building with a second story above for us to live in and be central to our new exciting business. We made a significant down payment to a builder from Logandale and he drew up plans to be submitted to the building department in Pioche.
That is when difficulties ensued. The builder reported back that no new construction would be allowed on our property. It seems the previous owners, developers from Alaska, had presented grandiose plans which had alerted nearly every state and federal agency. Their plans included a casino, cementing the springs, building condos along the highway, an 18- hole golf course and an airport.
Shocked, but not defeated. We altered our plans, made accommodations for restrictions and pressed on. It was at this time that we presented the BLM with a suitable plan that included Little Ash. The BLM people were very impressed with our plan and offered us the opportunity to run Little Ash as a venue. It seemed as if our problems were solved, but it was not long after that meeting that the opportunity was taken away from us, without explanation.
In the months that followed we became increasingly aware of a rapidly growing problem with our upstream neighbors, the BLM. Because Big Ash swimming hole was no longer open, Little Ash became the place to be. Unfortunately, over use and lack of proper oversight by the BLM, turned it into a huge nuisance for us. Up until Little Ash’s closure four years ago, my wife and I were constantly faced with trespassers who did terrible things on and to our property, causing much stress, constant cleanup and many calls to the local sheriff. We have included, as “Attachment A” to this letter, our letter to the BLM from several years ago detailing these problems.
Just as example of the overuse, one Memorial Day, a BLM Ranger on site at Little Ash estimated that there were over 300 people using that one-third acre property with only two vault toilets available. You can imagine how poor the quality of our water downstream had become.
It was during our next attempt of reopening Big Ash on our own, despite the ongoing problems with the BLM, that we became schooled, in depth, about public health and safety regarding warms springs. We learned that many warm springs had been closed because warm water, untreated, can become a breeding ground for many serious water borne illnesses (please refer to Attachment B). Also, and most frightening, we began to hear of something found in fresh water throughout the United States, a brain- eating amoeba. Although it sounds far- fetched, it has been claimed that a young man did contract one at Big Ash and was dead in three days. This amoeba enters the brain through the thin membrane of the nasal cavity. It is believed to be contracted when someone dives or jumps into the water, forcing water up into the nose.
With all these factors in mind, and many more, our latest plan submitted to the BLM included pools of filtered, treated and monitored warm water, together with showers and restrooms for a safe and enjoyable experience. We have also proposed that Big Ash and Little Ash be reserved as a natural and interpretive area with trails to be enjoyed by nature and nature lovers alike.
Mr. Mitchell, to bring you and your readers up to date, before your letter appeared in Lincoln County Record, my wife and I were anxiously awaiting the results of a year-long study of the Ash Springs ecosystem and possible assessment of our newest plan. We were also informed that historical research done by the BLM has revealed that the BLM has no water rights at the Little Ash property. This means that they would be unable to manipulate the water in any way — not even a water filter between our two properties would be allowable. The BLM also assured us that the BLM is not in the business of competing with private property owners.
In conclusion, we would like to add that during our entire experience as owners of Big Ash, all we have ever hoped for was to be treated fairly. We understand, more than most, what a complex situation Ash Springs has become. My wife and I have been very good stewards of this precious ecosystem, cooperative, patient, understanding and long suffering. We have invested our life savings and not been able to develop anything. Meanwhile, the BLM continues to treat us and Little Ash Springs with serious disregard. Does this seem fair to you?
If you are interested in a tour of our property, or just a chat, please feel free to contact us.
Joe and Andrea Barker