After nearly six years in the works, local non-profit organization Partners in Conservation (PIC) is celebrating its new role as site steward of the Logandale Trails area. Last week, the Bureau of Land Management Las Vegas Field Office announced that it was awarding PIC with the first recreational stewardship program in the region as part of a three year pilot initiative.
“We are so excited about this,” said PIC Administrator Elise McAllister of Moapa. “It is an opportunity to reconnect the Logandale Trails area with the community, its businesses and residents.”
Site stewardships are not new for the BLM on western public lands. A stewardship program over sensitive cultural and archaeological sites in the state of Nevada has been very successful in recent years, McAllister explained. But the Logandale Trails stewardship program is the first that deals with a recreational component.
“It is being called a pilot project,” McAllister said. “We have the opportunity to create a successful template that might be applied to other heavily used recreational areas in the state and other BLM lands.”
The BLM has allocated funding for the project for the first three years. At that point, PIC plans to have formulated a business plan on how the project can become more self-sufficient through fundraising and volunteer efforts, McAllister said.
McAllister explains that the stewardship doesn’t include authority over permits for special events in the area. Those things will still be done through the BLM Las Vegas field office. Rather PIC will handle much of the day-to-day upkeep of the area. That includes things like providing dumpster services, caring for and improving restroom facilities, cleaning up campsites, monitoring sensitive areas and establishing more of a watchful presence, McAllister said.
To do all of this, PIC will rely on a model it has used before in carrying out other public lands projects. It will recruit community groups and organizations to become engaged and volunteer in nearby public lands.
McAllister specifically points to the success that PIC had in 2002-2008 with installing 27 miles of retrofit tortoise fencing along the I-15 corridor across Mormon Mesa. In that project, PIC mobilized a small army of local volunteers from various community organizations to help get the huge job done.
“PIC’s model has been to keep our overhead as low as possible so that the funding isn’t eaten up by anything not directly project related,” McAllister said. “Then we engage the community in the project and donate back funding to help groups that have helped us get it done.”
McAllister said that PIC plans to organize at least one volunteer event per month out at the trails. These projects will include things like keeping restroom facilities clean and in good repair, cleaning up trash from the area. repairing roads and trails washed out by storms, establishing needed infrastructure in the area and more. As additional grant funding is obtained, improvements could be made to existing campsites and picnic facilities and additional restroom facilities could be added, McAllister said.
Moapa Valley communities could also see even more substantial economic benefits from involvement in the project, McAllister said. Included in PIC’s planning is an effort to connect the Logandale Trails more effectively with the nearby Moapa Valley commercial districts.
“There is the impression that people coming to the Logandale Trails come here, ride their ATVs around and then leave without ever knowing what the town has to offer,” McAllister said. “To some extent that impression is true. We will be working to find ways of drawing the local business community into that circle of activity.”
McAllister plans to organize an effort to set up an information booth on busy weekends at the trailhead area. This booth would let visitors know what is available in the community both in commercial services and in local events. McAllister’s vision is that local business owners and organizations would have an opportunity to promote themselves with special offers and sales in drawing Logandale Trails visitors.
“We are working to find ways of letting visitors know about the local businesses and goings-on in town while they are here,” McAllister said. “People like to come here to hit the trails during the day. But during the evenings, they often want something else to do. Small town events can be a big draw for them.”
Of course, all of this will involve a balancing act between the job of maintaining and enhancing the area for its recreational uses and the need to protect the natural and cultural resources in the area.
The Logandale Trails area has seen a sharp increase in public use in recent years. In a 2012 study, the BLM found that the 21,128-acre Logandale Trails had received 168,248 visitors. This equated to 7.97 visitors per acre that year, the report stated. By contrast, all public lands open to recreation in Clark County averaged only around .83 visitors per acre. No other recreation area in the region even came close.
So McAllister recognizes stewardship of the area for its natural resources will be a challenge. And the key to success will be education of the public, she says.
“For all the heavy use it is getting, the area is actually in very good shape,” McAllister said. “Most people that come out generally want to follow the rules and just enjoy the outdoor area.”
PIC doesn’t like to take the negative approach and use the word ‘no’ when it comes to public land use, McAllister said. Instead the group has found better results in laying out the valid reasons for the rules; so that it makes sense to the people using the land, she said.
In any case, McAllister said she is looking forward to the work of improving one of the Moapa Valley’s greatest outdoor assets, both as a recreation area and as a natural treasure.
“It’s really remarkable,” she said. “Here in this area we have the endangered tortoise; a number of plant specimens that are sensitive or listed; the gila monster and bighorn sheep which both have protected designations. And the fact that we have recreation going on right in the middle of all that habitat is just unique. There aren’t many places left like that. This is an opportunity to show that we can take care of the habitat, and even improve it, while recreation is going on all around. It is a great challenge.”
This article was originally posted in the Moapa Valley Progress on 11/14/17, and reposted here with permission. Photo Credit and Article Credit: Moapa Valley Progress.