The following blog post is a guest blog post written by Jose Witt and Jesy Simons from Friends of Nevada Wilderness
SH Architecture and Friends of Nevada Wilderness may seem an odd couple at first glance but a deeper look at the culture of each organization and the folks who make up the teams, prove this partnership is built to last.
Friends of Nevada Wilderness is a state-wide land conservation nonprofit organization that originated in Northern Nevada over 30 years ago. When the organization branched out to establish a presence in Las Vegas, SH Architecture welcomed Friends with open arms. Two hard-working, passionate Wilderness warriors, Kurt Kuznicki from Friends of Nevada Wilderness and Kathy Ujifusa from SH Architecture, set up a table at the Henderson Trails Day in 2009 to spread the word about Wilderness. This was the beginning of more than just a partnership, but a relationship.
The very next year, to celebrate Earth Day, SH Architecture and Friends of Nevada Wilderness planned a stewardship project in Lovell Canyon, located at the southern end of the Spring Mountains. The project was focused on protecting Rainbow Mountain Wilderness which encompasses the rocky cliffs of the Red Rock National Conservation Area. Clark County has 18 Wilderness areas, which is quite unique for such a large metropolitan area. The ease of access to these wilderness areas means that many of the more popular spots get loved to death. Lovell Canyon is a very popular destination for not only the Las Vegas community but also folks in Pahrump. Friends started organizing stewardship projects in the area with SH Architecture in 2010, they returned in 2011 and the work there is still ongoing. In fact, the last weekend in February volunteers will continue to show Lovell some love.
SH Architecture and Friends of Nevada Wilderness have partnered to take care of Wild lands in Nevada for years and in case you’re wondering, this group of architects is not afraid to get their hands dirty! Together they have naturalized old roads in Lovell Canyon, helped clean up Mt. Charleston, repaired a barrier in Brownstone Basin, maintained trails on National Trails Day and planted many of the beautiful plants, flowers and trees enjoyed by visitors to Corn Creek. In 2012 SH Architecture helped plant native trees at Corn Creek in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The Desert Refuge begins just North of Las Vegas and extends nearly to Tonopah, NV. It’s the largest Wildlife Refuge in the contiguous United States. Corn Creek is the first place most visitors to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge experience. Corn Creek has transformed dramatically since SH Architecture & Friends of Nevada Wilderness’s first project there in 2012. At that time a small trickle of water meandered through a barren dusty former horse pasture directly behind the Fish & Wildlife Service staff housing. The only plants found in the area were weeds and the only greenery near the water were invasive reeds choking up the entire spring channel and algae. SH Architecture’s first project at the Refuge was the beginning of a change. With the addition of cottonwood and willow trees, the planting of native bushes and flowers and the removal of those invasive weeds have completely transformed the area into a riparian destination for birds, fish, and people. While the vegetative restoration was underway the Refuge’s visitor information was also getting a makeover, designed by none other than SH Architecture! Before and after photos of the welcoming visitors receive when they reach Corn Creek show the dramatic changes.
In the last few years, SH got more involved in spreading the word about wilderness values. SH Architecture joined the coalition of businesses who supported protecting Gold Butte. They were one of the first businesses to visit Congressman Heck’s office in 2012 and talk about the economic benefits of protecting public lands in Nevada, like Gold Butte. A few employees travelled to Gold Butte, before it was a National Monument, to see the petroglyphs and enjoy the scenery. It was curious to see people more interested in a CCC dam created in the 30’s for cattle grazing than the cryptic petroglyphs of the Paiutes and their ancestors, but they are architects after all! The highlight of the events SH put on to inspire other’s getting involved was the Gold Butte Appreciation event where employees and others were encouraged to create their own petroglyphs! Pictures of ancient drawings found in Gold Butte were strewn across the table to inspire the architect’s natural creativity.
The team at SH Architecture has always supported the mission of Friends of Nevada Wilderness. The employees at SH volunteer their time to dig holes in the desert & invite Friends staff to try their hand at carving their own petroglyphs. SH Architecture has encouraged their business partners to support Friends and our goals, discussed current public lands issues with elected leaders, and offered financial support like sponsoring the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. It’s a pleasure to work with such strong leaders in the community & Friends of Nevada Wilderness couldn’t ask for better partners.
Jose Witt, Southern Nevada Manager and Jesy Simons, Southern Nevada Program Coordinator
Friends of Nevada Wilderness