Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh My Hell, Vegas - GO AWAY ALREADY!

They're like roaches, I swear.  No video embed, but here's a link to a recent news story about this.

A little bit of background - My family lives on a cattle ranch in Utah's West Desert.  That's the other side of the state from Moab and all those fancy national parks in Eastern and Southern Utah that people from the big city come in with their Birkenstocks and mountain climbing gear and think they're becoming "one with nature."  I don't begrudge them that - everyone needs a hobby.  Plus, it helps people in those little towns that exist because of the red rocks and Lake Powell.  Even tourists need to eat.

Western Utah is vastly different.  We're the sagebrush-and-scrub land that nobody - and I mean NOBODY wants.  Oh, we get the history buffs who want to see the old Pony Express (it goes right through our town) and a few other more adventurous types.  However, our main industry is livestock.  It is a little-known fact that cattle and sheep actually thrive on the various kinds of sagebrush out in the West Desert and aren't bothered by the military running aerial practice fights.  Plus, if you irrigate the land properly, you can grow a pretty respectable crop of hay and corn and other sundry things.  Irrigation is possible because of an underground aquifer that runs under land in Eastern Nevada and Western Utah and keeps our mountain valleys green and lush and yummy for the cows (which we then fatten up and sell so you city folks can have your Grade-A Angus T-Bone steak at Sizzler).  That water and those cows put me and my siblings through college and give my family and our neighbors a decent living.  For me, this isn't some "Oh la la la - I'm communing with nature and I feel so FREE!" weekend in July - this is home.

Enter Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada Water Association (Agency? Assholes?).  Or, as I like to call them, Those Rat Bastards That Keep Voting for King Rat Bastard Harry Reid (he's part of the problem since he owns a crapton of land in Vegas with little-to-no water rights).  Apparently, Vegas used up all their other water sources, so they keep going further out for water sources.  And guess who they've tapped to provide them with their next water supply?

If you said Middle of Nowhere, Utah - you would be correct.

This fight has been going on for years.  It started... oh geez... my sister who is now a freshman in college was in sixth grade (I think) when this really blew up.  It made the news and got the governor (who was then Jon Huntsman) to come out to West Desert and talk with the community.  That was a big deal because the rest of the state typically ignores us (we're like the Shire - insignificant and piddly until The Big People drag us into their issues).  Gov. Huntsman basically told Vegas to go pound sand, but then he got called off to be the Ambassador to China and Gov. Herbert (who I like quite a bit otherwise) still hasn't really decided where he stands, though he is reasonable.  For a while, I thought SNWA had taken their ball and gone home, but the above news report says otherwise (dammit).  And now they're making Lake Powell an issue.  I've never been to Lake Powell and never had a desire to go there (boating, tourists, city peeps out sunbathing - that kind of thing), but who do you think will win that fight?  City people love their boats and they could care less about a town with more cows than people.  Besides, horses smell funny.

What gets me (and I wrote about this on Facebook) is that when it's national forests and parks being threatened, you get all kinds of hippies and environmentalists crawling out of the woodwork to tie themselves to trees and protest that the sainted forests and bunnies and deer are at risk and how dare you evil humans come here with your ATVs and campers and we must respect nature!!  But when it's a piece of scrub desert land that people actually live off of and raise their families there and take care of - well, we're just a bunch of dumb rednecks who need to move to the city and don't you know that meat is bad for you anyway?  Never mind that if Vegas drains the Snake Valley aquifer, it's going to be a dust bowl like the rest of the places that Vegas has taken over.  And where does that leave your precious ecosystems, bucko?

I'll be the first to admit - I have an bred-in dislike of environmentalist policy on principle.  And they have a natural dislike for farming, ranching and hunting, which are all things that I grew up doing, so it's a mutual thing.  But I would think that there would be some common ground in this issue.  I (and my family and friends out west) want the land to continue to be useful so we can continue to make a living doing what we love to do.  Environmentalists (I would think) don't want the water sucked dry so it ruins the desert ecosystem (that flourish when the land is farmed, I'll have you know).  But if they don't want to help, that's fine.  We'll beat up on Vegas anyway.  We've done it for at least six years now and it's going to continue.

Since I have a platform (of sorts), I thought I'd devote an entry to this.  It's just nice to feel like you have a way to get the word out and influence people.  Also - do you know how much fun it is to type GO TO HELL LAS VEGAS!!! in all caps?


(I like that variation too ^_^)

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