Friends of Friends: Friends of Gold Butte

Editor’s Note: Friends of Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks are fortunate to be part of a network of grassroots organizations across the country. Friends of Friends is a series of blog posts from partner organizations that inspire and motivate our work. Together we are protecting, restoring and expanding our nation’s most iconic public lands. We also work with partners here in New Mexico to overcome obstacles we face as a state and a community.  Our collective efforts help preserve our history and culture, protect vital wildlife and ecology, educate and engage families and build strong vibrant communities, improving the quality of life for residents and visitors.  Our work is challenging and we face many obstacles. Yet we move forward knowing that our contributions shape the world around us and define it for future generations.

We hope you enjoy learning about these individuals and organizations and help support us all.

Nevada’s Piece of the Grand Canyon and The Friends of Gold Butte

Whitney Pockets, Photo by David Bly

Visit to sign the petition to protect Gold Butte!

Imagine you are standing in a vast desert landscape. The air is dry and you are surrounded by tall, purple mountains. In front of you, large outcroppings of red and orange sandstone rise from the desert floor—they look like ships anchored in a sea of Joshua trees and Mojave yucca. Traveling across this land you see the geologic relics of past worlds, from Precambrian granite found in the Jumbo Springs wilderness to Cambrian carbonate rocks on Lime Ridge. Jurassic Aztec sandstone pockets surface in the heart of the landscape and here, you discover mysterious, ancient petroglyphs etched into desert varnish, stories of human journeys long ago. Along the roadsides, you find historic corrals and stone arrastras, evidence of historical ranching and mining efforts that continue the story of human experience with this land. If you are lucky, you may come across a desert tortoise (a threatened species) or an elusive bighorn sheep.

Newspaper Rock, Photo by Kurt Kuznicki

This is Gold Butte. Encompassing 350,000 acres of BLM-managed land, a big and diverse landscape in southeastern Nevada. It is tucked in between the borders of the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It is Nevada’s piece of the Grand Canyon.

This land is sacred for the native Southern Paiute (Nuwuvi) people. The petroglyphs and pictographs tell their ancient stories. This landscape and the living things on it are described in the sacred Salt Songs of the Nuwuvi people, which are still sung today.

Falling Man Petroglyph, Photo by Terri Rylander

The Friends of Gold Butte (FoGB) was formed in 2003 by a group of citizens who became increasingly concerned about the damage to sacred cultural sites and sensitive habitats in the area. We documented graffiti and bullet holes defacing ancient petroglyph panels and vehicle damage from OHVs that deviated from designated roads onto sensitive crypto-biotic soils.

Since its formation, FoGB has worked to protect Gold Butte’s natural and cultural treasures. In addition to leading interpretive hikes and completing restoration projects, we educate and advocate for conservation. For many years, we sought a National Conservation Area designation and appealed to Nevada’s elected officials for support. Since 2008, legislation to establish an NCA has been introduced three separate times by Nevada representatives in Congress and twice by Senator Harry Reid. In 2016, Senator Reid and Congresswoman Dina Titus asked President Obama to designate Gold Butte a National Monument before the end of his term.

Native Plant Restoration Project, Photo courtesy of Friends of Gold Butte

Gold Butte is a special place that needs and deserves the protection and status that a National Monument designation can provide. Landscapes like this are a valuable treasure for our society. They are important for preserving the natural and cultural heritage connected to them. It is our responsibility to ensure current and future generations can enjoy and explore them.

As the end date of President Obama’s term nears closer, we are hopeful that he will use the authority of the Antiquities Act to protect Gold Butte. Please support us in our efforts to protect this spectacular landscape. Visit to sign our petition.

More information about Friends of Gold Butte’s advocacy and stewardship efforts can be found on our website at

Jaina Moan is the Executive Director for the Friends of Gold Butte, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving permanent protection for Gold Butte’s natural and cultural resources. She loves to explore wild, remote deserts on foot.