by Mason Voehl
The older I get, the more interested I seem to become in the flow of time and how we mark it. Perhaps as a result of my particular occupation, I have come to see time very much as I do a river: as a fluid body in motion.
In this modern era where our days are largely measured and metered out in Google calendar invites, Zoom meetings, and application deadlines, time seems to rush by in whitewater fashion. Most days, it seems the best many of us can do is just hang tight and try to ride out the seemingly never ending rapids of our goals, tasks, and obligations.
But that time of the year has come in which we as a society strive to steer out of the main current of the river of time and into an eddy, a space where water slows and circles gently back on itself. To drop the metaphor, the holiday season seems to me to be a space we hold for slowing down, getting out of the rush of our regular lives and gathering to reflect on the goodness present therein.
During this eddy of joy and reflection, I want to name just some of the many forces for good that I am thankful for in the context of my role as the AC’s executive director.
I can’t adequately express just how grateful I am for the support of our members this year. When we were forced to mobilize a swift public response to the urgent threat posed to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge by exploratory mining, our members showed up for us. Only through the support of our members were we able to put a halt to Rover Metals’ reckless drilling project and organize a response to this ongoing threat.
Unfortunately, the fight to save Ash Meadows continues as Rover Metals takes actions that suggest they still see a path to pushing this dangerous and unpopular project forward. Over the past few months, the company has expanded their exploration area by 2,400 acres and published depictions of future open-pit mining operations on their website. Despite our best efforts to illustrate the danger their proposed project might pose to one of the most significant biodiversity hotspots on Earth and a place of deep spiritual importance to regional Tribes, the mining company continues to prioritize profit over the planet.
But we are not sitting idly by. As we work with partners to develop strategies to proactively safeguard Ash Meadows from this and other similar future threats, we know we can count on our members to provide us with the resources and support we will surely need to win this fight.
As I consider the path the organization has walked in the last year, I am more grateful than ever for the partnerships we have built within the Amargosa Basin. When I think back on the summit our organization convened in March which brought together over 60 representatives from non-profit organizations, Tribal nations, state and federal agencies, universities, and private landowners, I take great pride in the community of partners present in our watershed. In truth, nothing our organization does to further conservation of the Amargosa Basin’s biological and cultural values is possible without the work of partners who share our affection and respect for this glorious place. The strength of our organization can rightly be measured by the passion, diversity, and wisdom of the community we belong to. And this year, I feel truly that our community of champions in the Amargosa Basin has never been stronger.
I want to give special recognition to our Tribal partners, and particularly to the Timbisha Shoshone Nation, who as the original stewards of these lands continue to graciously share their time and their knowledge in support of a sustainable future for their ancestral homelands.
In the coming year, as we work toward securing needed safeguards for our most precious habitat areas like Ash Meadows in Nevada, and toward undertaking impactful restoration projects in California, we will continue to count on our partners to be by our side every step of the way.
Our Board of Directors
As a small organization with a big job to do, our board of directors has shouldered a serious amount of responsibility in ensuring that we are pursuing our program of work effectively, equitably, and sustainably over the last year. I am thankful to get to work with such exceptionally passionate, intelligent, and hardworking individuals with huge hearts for the Amargosa Basin. These are the people who work behind the scenes each and every day, giving freely from their time, wealth, and expertise in exchange for the hope that our organization and the landscape we serve continue to have bright futures. I know I’d be lost without them.
I want to round out this reflective moment by expressing my gratitude for the land itself. Amidst the chaotic rapids and waterfalls that we all must ride these days, it is consistently the land itself and its remarkable inhabitants that provide small moments of peace and perspective that carry us through safely to the other side. As much as many of us aim to do good for the land, we can never fairly compensate for the good the land does for us. And so I am thankful this year for those moments spent gazing at the clear waters of Fairbanks Spring, swaying with the wind racing through Carson Slough, and sitting silently in the shade in the Amargosa Canyon. These are the moments that sustain me, and frankly, the moments that sustain our entire organization.
On behalf of the AC, we hope you find your own quiet eddy of joy and reflection this season, and we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.
A moment of reflection, gazing across the alluvium toward Willow Creek from the AC’s Smith Talc Mine Property