|GETTING TO THERE:
NATIONAL HERITAGE AREAS, AND A POSSIBLE SITE
IN NYE COUNTY, NEVADA
|The best way of creating a Bright Angel historic valley is not necessarily to establish it in a single step. An alternative, more phased approach would be to study the idea under the umbrella of a larger but more familiar type of land designation known as a “national heritage area.” If the historic valley appears to be a good idea after this inquiry, then it can be organized under the sponsorship of the heritage area. If the heritage area management decides not to pursue the idea, on the other hand, then we still still have created the heritage area itself, which will also have been a useful accomplishment.One very good location for this phased, heritage-area approach would be in the mountains and valleys of northern Nye County, Nevada.
Working under the umbrella of a national heritage area has a number of advantages. A heritage area is a simple and well-established model; it allows local residents a low-risk way of becoming familiar with the general issues of historic preservation; it comes with a federal budget for planning and operations; it provides a framework within which the more complex string of re-created towns can be fully considered; and it will result in something useful even if a decision is made not to go forward with building the re-created towns. Click here for a general description of heritage areas.
This phased approach, beginning with the heritage area, seems to safeguard both conservation values and local control. Conservation values are secured by the presence of green groups or historical societies on the managing boards of the organizations involved, and by the fact that virtually all the land in the typical western valley will be under the administration of the federal land agencies, which can veto any proposals that are not sufficiently conservationist. At the same time, local control is ensured by having a voting majority of local interests on the board of the heritage area, to ensure that the area will not produce in the first place any proposals that are inconsistent with local values.
A particularly promising location is Nye County, in central Nevada. This site offers at least five important advantages: (1) The area is lightly inhabited, and with a high percentage of the land owned by the federal government, so there are not many inconsistent uses. (2) The county is in the Basin and Range geologic province, so that the valleys there are both long and wide, and large enough to create a sense that the visitor has entered a true alternative world. (3) The area has substantial variety in elevation and temperature. (4) The dry climate has preserved a number of ghost towns and ruins that will provide tangible historical reference points. (5) A few years ago the county Commissioners unanimously expressed interest in the project, at least to the extent of encouraging a feasibility study as the next step. You may click here for the text of their Resolution.
The papers below will lay out a step-by-step program for creating a heritage area and then assessing the Bright Angel valley as one task of that area’s management. These papers are written in the context of Nye County but could be adapted to other locations as well. All the papers suppose that the reader is already familiar with the basic plan for the Bright Angel historic valley. That is set out elsewhere on the website under the heading for the Detailed Statement of the Proposal. Many of the fundamental concepts of the historic valley, and the explanation of how and why they would be used, may be found there. The points discussed here are therefore limited to the special issues of approaching that proposal through the specific medium of a national heritage area, and adapting it to the specific location of Nye County.
The heritage area is discussed in four papers: (1) a compact three-page outline, (2) a one-page description of the economic benefits of heritage areas, (3) a longer ten-page paper that addresses more of the technical and legal issues, and (4) a draft for legislation to actually create such an area:
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