Wow! After two days, we are already approaching 100 people who have signed the petition in support of the Little Ash Springs Proposal. If you support this plan and have not yet signed the petition, you can do so here: http://www.friendsofpv.org/little-ash-springs-proposal/. We also encourage you to contact BLM officials and government representatives to inform them of your support of the proposal. Their contact info is on that same page.
While the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, there have been some questions and concerns. We appreciate everyone’s feedback and welcome the opportunity to dialogue with you on this important issue. Below you will find answers to questions we have received so far:
Q: This proposal significantly changes Little Ash. Why can’t Little Ash remain as it has always been for generations?
A: The growing popularity of Little Ash makes it impossible to continue as it once was. During the years leading up to its closing, the site was consistently overcrowded, and garbage and animal waste littered the area (including the water). For many local families, it became basically unusable.
Having visitors come enjoy Little Ash is good for our local businesses, but there needs to be changes so the site can be properly managed and so locals can begin using Little Ash again. These include adding more pools, having someone on site to prevent overcrowding and overuse of the water, moving non-water activities away from the pools, and creating a fee structure to pay for employees and maintenance costs.
The proposal also adds new features to Little Ash to make it more enjoyable. These include walking trails and boardwalks, a changing area, pavilions for picnics or reunions, sand volleyball pits, a basketball court, a playground and better parking.
This proposal gets the area safe to re-open as well as makes it a clean, well-managed facility that ensures Little Ash will be a gem in our community for generations. See our full proposal at http://www.friendsofpv.org/little-ash-springs-proposal/.
Q: Why should the local community work with the BLM on Little Ash?
A: While we acknowledge there are many issues in relation to management of public land, our focus is on the immediate needs at Little Ash.
Our ultimate goal is to have the site transferred to Lincoln County. We initially went before our county commissioners to request the land be transferred to the county, but they were hesitant to pursue it due to uncertainty on the costs. The commissioners understandably want to avoid putting an added financial burden on the county. While we are confident Little Ash could be self-sustaining financially, in order to transfer the land to the county and make the necessary changes, it would take a good amount of money.
The site is on public land managed by the BLM, and the Caliente Field Office is authorized to make decisions in regards to its use. We propose to hold the BLM accountable for fixing this area that is currently under their management using money specifically set aside for that purpose. (Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, 1998). And we are making sure they understand what locals want Little Ash to be with a thought-out, community-backed plan.
So far, local BLM officials have been cooperative and indicated Little Ash is a top priority. They sought for and secured funding to do a management plan and environmental assessment for re-opening Little Ash. This document is created with public input, and public meetings begin in late January, early February. Friends of Pahranagat Valley plans to be at all of the meetings to make sure the BLM understands our proposal and how many people support it.
One encouraging thing is what has been going on in Caliente with the mountain biking trails project. This is a project that locals want done and there has been significant cooperation between the city, county, state parks and the BLM to move it forward. The City of Caliente said the Caliente Field Office people have been good to work with. We expect a similar experience with Ash Springs.
Once Little Ash is ready to re-open, our proposal includes local control, with Friends of Pahranagat Valley taking over the day-to-day management responsibilities. We propose hiring 1-2 local employees to be on site during business hours to manage and clean the area. This creates a couple new jobs for the valley!
Then once it is proved that Little Ash Springs can pay for itself, we will pursue an ownership transfer of the site, as well as about 30 additional acres of surrounding land to Lincoln County, using money that is specifically set aside for this (Lincoln County Land Act, 2000; Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act, 2004).
Q: Will the agricultural water be contaminated because of people soaking in the spring water?
A: Humans have been soaking in Little Ash Springs for decades and there have been no contamination issues so far that we are aware of, even when Little Ash was bursting with 300+ people in one afternoon.
Our proposal includes a maximum pool occupancy, so everyone will comfortably and safely be able to use the water without contaminating it.
Q: Will locals be able to use Little Ash or will there be too many outside visitors?
A: As stated above, we propose that Friends of Pahranagat Valley manage the day-to day-operation of Little Ash with 1-2 local employees. With that, plus an expanded facility, entrance fees and on-site management that will enforce the rules, overcrowding will no longer be a problem, thus making the area much more accessible to locals.
Q: Will people still be able to use Little Ash at night?
A: Yes! We wanted to cater as much to our local traditions as we can. For example, many high schoolers enjoy soaking in Little Ash Springs after practice or a game. It was important to us to keep that available. Our video rendering shows what we propose for the area to look like at night if you watch it to the end.
Q: Will there be a cost for people to use Little Ash? If so, why?
A: Yes, there will be entrance costs. As stated above, in order to manage the facility, we propose hiring 1-2 local employees to manage the area during all hours of operation. We are excited to offer a couple more jobs here for locals, and in order to pay them, we need to charge fees. We have tried to keep them very reasonable. We will also offer year passes per family at a very reasonable cost.
Q: How will this proposal affect the wildlife/ecosystem at Little Ash?
A: The Little Ash spring is home to an endangered and several sensitive species. Any management plan in relation to Little Ash must show that changes and use of the site will not adversely affect the ecosystem. Humans have been swimming at Little Ash for generations, but it’s important to avoid misuse and overuse. We have received input from officials with the Nevada Department of Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the primary concerns regarding the species, and our proposal balances both people enjoying the spring water, while protecting the natural resource and ecosystem.
The proposal includes a maximum occupancy be placed in the man-made pools to minimize any impact being made on native species at the spring. It also restricts entering the water with chemical hair products, lotions, etc.
The proposal stipulates soaking in the man-made pools only and preserves the lower pond and surrounding vegetation. The part of the site would have raised boardwalks and bridges allowing visitors to walk through without disturbing plants, wildlife and water banks. It would also include information on the ecosystem, the history of Little Ash and Pahranagat Valley and other educational features.
Q: What will this cost and how will all of this be paid for?
A: Friends of Pahranagat Valley has been set up as a non-profit in order to raise money for these types of endeavors. Our group is made up of local residents with a desire to “serve, preserve and enhance Pahranagat Valley.” We take on projects that fulfill our mission, seeking local input throughout the process.
We do not yet know exactly what Little Ash improvements will cost, because we don’t have a final plan yet. Once it’s time to start raising funds, Friends of Pahranagat Valley will be positioned to do just that. We believe we can raise the money through private donations. There is also the possibility of public funding through local, state, and federal funds that have been reserved for these types of projects.
In terms of the cost of managing Little Ash, our proposal includes a fee structure to enter the site. These are very reasonable and include a one-year pass, as well as single-day passes. The fees will fund management of Little Ash, allowing us to hire 1-2 employees to be on site and keep the area clean and running smoothly.
Q: This is nice, but isn’t a little too elaborate?
A: We are extremely fortunate that committee vice president Sam Lytle knows how to create 3D renderings of potential projects. The images and videos he volunteered his time to build allows people to actually visualize what we are proposing and see how amazing Little Ash could potentially be.
That being said, what you see in those images isn’t necessarily exactly what the final product will be. It’s simply a concept, subject to modifications. For example, the parking lot may not end up being paved. The different shades of dirt/gravel you see may end up just being the natural dirt that’s already there. And the configuration of the pools may change. A lot of it depends on costs and what will be included in the final plan.
But make no mistake, we want Little Ash to be improved to make it a more enjoyable place for recreation. We would like to see the pool fixed up and perhaps expanded, we would like to see better restroom facilities and a changing area. We would like there to be places to sit, picnic, walk, and places for the kids (and kids at heart) to play. We would like to see better parking and an improved access road.
Most importantly, we would like to see Little Ash well-managed by a local group, so it can remain a safe, well-kept spot that our community can enjoy for generations.
THANK YOU for your questions! For more detailed information please go to our proposal page and click on the BIG RED sentence that says “Click here to see the full proposal.”