Heartbreak, anger in the West Desert

“DOES anyone think Southern Nevada [Water Authority] is going to build a $15 billion pipeline and then let somebody turn it off?” — Snake Valley  rancher Cecil Garland, pictured above center.

Standing tall

Dean Baker stood for this 2007 Las Vegas Sun portrait in the water of Big Springs, Snake Valley, Nevada, part of the Great Basin Carbonate Aquifer system targeted by Las Vegas. For 20 years, Baker has been the face of the opposition to the Las Vegas pipeline project, both for rural Nevada, where he lives, and the neighboring West Desert of central Utah, where he was born and raised. In 2007, at the behest of his childhood neighbors in Utah, Baker joined an Utahan negotiating team tasked by Congress to agree how much water, if any, Utah would consent to Nevada removing from Snake Valley, a basin shared by both states. Patricia Mulroy, Las Vegas water manager and founder of the nearly 300-mile-long pipeline project, decried Baker's appointment as political brinksmanship. However, Utah Director of Natural Resources Mike Styler said at the time of Baker, "He's a courageous person ...

How it’s done in the desert

A REMORSELESS game of political chess being played out by the two driest states in the country moved inexorably toward checkmate last week in Washington DC.

Mount Wheeler, the peak whose snowmelt feeds this stream in the Great Basin Desert, stands in Nevada. But Wheeler’s water serves Snake Valley, which straddles the Nevada-Utah border.

Congressional maneuvering over which state has the rights to how much of Mt Wheeler’s water began in 2004, when in a land bill pushed by the Nevada delegation, Congress granted right of way for a Las Vegas pipeline that would eventually run hundreds of miles into the Great Basin to tap Snake Valley.

But hours before the vote, Utah Senator Bob Bennett slipped a clause into the bill dictating that no water could be taken from border valleys without Utah’s consent.

As negotiations took

Western Datebook: the Snake Valley Festival

The Snake Valley Festival in aid of the Great Basin Water Network will be held at different locations in and around Baker, Nevada from July 24-26. To set your compass, all festivities will take place in the immediate vicinity of the Great Basin National Park.

For the park, click on the starry, starry sky.

For the festival, click on the pine nuts.

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    Emily Green by e-mail at emily.green [at] mac.com
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