Thirteen conservation and sportsmen’s groups and outdoor apparel manufacturer Patagonia ran a full-page advertisement in Monday’s Elko Daily Free-Press opposing federal plans to open Nevada’s iconic Ruby Mountains to oil drilling and fracking. Today marks the end of the public-comment period, which brought in more than 10,000 comments against fracking in the Rubies.
The U.S. Forest Service is considering whether to lease out 54,000 acres of public land in the Ruby Mountains to private corporations for fossil fuel development. The Rubies, often referred to as “Nevada’s Swiss Alps,” are home to the state’s largest mule deer herd, recovery streams for threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and priority habitat for greater sage grouse.
“Our groups have disparate interests and diverse memberships, but we stand together against turning our precious Ruby Mountains into an oilfield,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These mountains are a critical natural resource for both wildlife and people. Thousands of Nevadans oppose this disastrous plan, and the Forest Service must not ignore them.”
The Center solicited photographs and stories from residents who love this remote mountain wilderness and expressed their dedication to preserving it. Many offered memories of their time spent in the area’s wildlands, including sharing the mountains with loved ones who have since passed on. “I would compare what I get from enjoying the Ruby Mountains the way they are now to a good therapy session,” said one Elko resident.
Signatories to the ad include the Center for Biological Diversity, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Nevada Muleys, the Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, Nevada Conservation League, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Patagonia, the Wilderness Society, Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter, Nevada Chukar Foundation, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Friends of Nevada Wilderness and the Ruby Mountain Fly Fishers.
“While our politics may sometimes divide us, we’re unified in our love for the Ruby Mountains,” said Donnelly. “We’re proud to stand together to tell the Forest Service with one voice that we don’t want oil drilling and fracking in the Rubies.”