SMITH COLUMN: Spending some time in Nevada – LaGrange Daily News
SMITH COLUMN: Spending some time in Nevada
Published at 10:30 a.m. Friday, January 6, 2023
OVERTON, Nev. – In this town of 4,244, about 65 miles northeast of Las Vegas, the most popular city in the Sagebrush State, also known as the Silver State, there are no bars, no glitz and no high rollers. – just everyday people trying to make a living, live and let live.
They have the same concerns as the rest of America. They worry about the economy, the environment and the school system. Mostly they are concerned about the drought that has plagued the West for more than ten years.
“This is getting serious,” said a local dressed as you’d expect a man from these parts to dress – scuffed cowboy boots, jeans, a flannel shirt and a Western-style hat that had been. stepped on several times. Perhaps, in an old-time square dance.
His concerns are well-founded as the Colorado River will soon be the size of the Middle Oconee River unless nature provides a twist with the elements. In Las Vegas and other places like this, the Colorado is the only source of water. For several seasons there has been no heavy snowfall in the mountains. The way things are going, the river and lakes will eventually drop to a level below the intake pipes.
“We haven’t had a big snow in over five years,” says Chris Byrd, a Vegas attorney. He hails from Buffalo originally and would dance around the 77-acre Bellagio Las Vegas for an extended snowfall like the ones that are common back home.
Vegas, to my knowledge, has not given any odds on when the drought will end. People gravitate here without worrying about Colorado drying up. They eat, drink, and be merry every week of the year, and while the natives are not yet desperate, they are exceedingly anxious.
In 2020, voters in Northern Nevada engaged and killed a pipeline move that would have pumped 58 billion gallons a year to Las Vegas. Opponents of the pipeline said the pipeline would have made “a dust bowl of 305 springs, 112 miles of streams, 8,000 acres of wetlands and 191,000 acres of bush habitat, almost all on public lands.”
Something similar is happening in our own backyard with a greedy mining company threatening the stability of the Okefenokee Swamp. If upstate Nevadans don’t want to donate their water to Sin City, then Georgians should send the mining interests packing.
Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which provide water for 40 million people, are so low that people are finding out where the bodies are buried. Recently a barrel, containing the remains of a man shot in the eighties, was found as the water receded. This is not the only such discovery recently.
Consider this sobering factoid. This mega drought is likely to continue till 2030. Further, it is the worst in 1200 years which means that this drought is the worst since the 12th century.
All this brings constant concern. Where will help come for Nevada this decade? Suddenly, I hear the Sons of the Pioneers singing that wonderful old tune, “Fresh Clear Water.” The meaning of the song was a “cry for help”. That time has arrived in Nevada.
We stopped here for lunch at a place called The Inside Scoop, which is known for its ice cream. Also serves a good hamburger. It was interesting to observe the rock formations and barren landscape on a nice dive at Overton. Suddenly a herd of bighorn sheep crossed the road as we made our way to Valley of Fire State Park. Those sheep crossing the highway made our day. Also, to friends John and Mary Elizabeth Tebeau and Lenn and Paula Chandler. The photo was stunning, reminding once again that nature, in all forms, will always bring graphic humility. Assuming it is meant to suggest that there were two horned sheep on Noah’s ark, another shows that there were big horned sheep during the drought of the last tens of millennia. If the big sheep were to survive, maybe there’s hope for concerned Nevadans and high-wheelers coming down this road. And for those visitors who travel here and have fun without placing any bets.