Outside Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas where President Obama was making a visit today, the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce positioned a few mobile billboards with a message for the President: “Thanks for protecting our national monuments. Up next… Gold Butte.” There were billboards in English and Spanish. Similar ads also covered the Las Vegas Sun’s website today.
The Gold Butte area is 360,000 acres of rugged mountains, Joshua tree and Mojave yucca forests, sandstone outcroppings, and braided washes that turn into slot canyons. The ancient remnants of Native American rock art fill the sandstone surfaces with stories from the past. In addition to cultural and historical distinction, Gold Butte offers a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities, such as camping, wildlife viewing, hiking, hunting, bird watching, biking and off-roading opportunities within a series of designated 4×4 routes.
This is about preserving the cultural and natural beauty of the Gold Butte area to be sure. That said, the Latin Chamber isn’t being shy about the potential economic benefits to local small businesses if Gold Butte is protected and promoted for tourism.
In a letter to President Obama, the Latin Chamber made the following remarks about their support:
The Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce is committed to advocating for Hispanics and small businesses and operating as a resource to promote economic growth in the Hispanic community. As the premier representative for Hispanic businesses in Las Vegas, we seek to provide support for issues that affect Hispanics and small businesses throughout the state.
Making known Hispanic support of Gold Butte and other environmental issues is at the heart of the effort. Hispanics aren’t a one issue group. The Latin Chamber cites to a recent poll in which more than 9 in 10 Latino voters said that outdoor activities such as fishing, picnics, camping, and visiting national parks and monuments are important to them and to their families; and nearly 70% of Latino voters said that they would support Presidential action in designating new national monuments.
Supporters of Gold Butte have been pressuring Nevada’s congressional delegation to support making Gold Butte a nationally protected area for years. They have a new vocal ally in the effort.