Friday, August 25, 2006

Fires in the Desert

Red Rock Fires

I completely missed the last Red Rock hiking season (September through April or May), so I was shocked when I drove through the Loop last Friday. Last year’s fires burned over 800 acres, and much of the damage is visible from the road. The land is scorched barren, littered with blackened Yucca stumps. You can see from this picture a clear dividing line between the damaged and intact area.

Wildfires are a growing problem in the desert, and one of the major reasons is the invasion of non-native weeds and grasses. When our triple-digit heat dries out these intruders, they turn into plentiful, highly combustible tinder. One lightening strike or stray cigarette butt can spark a devastating fire that destroys the native plants and animals. Unlike forests, deserts are not designed to rebound from fire – they’ve not been historically prone to fire because in their natural state, they aren’t full of dried grass and weeds. Chris Clarke wrote an excellent article on this danger to all Southwestern states that can be found at his Creek Running North web site.

If you haven’t been keeping up on invasive species, you might want to bone up. It’s now being linked to global warming – although I think everything but JonBonet Ramsey’s murder has been linked to global warming these days – but I predict it will emerge as an ecological threat in its own right.

What Happens in Vegas Must Happen Before Midnight

The County has decided to close the Marriage License Bureau from midnight to 8 a.m., a move sure to cut the number of Vegas-related annulments in half. I have to say that this move is long overdue, as anyone who has been downtown between the hours of midnight to 8 a.m. can attest. I worked the graveyard shift for Metro for over two years in the early 80’s and can assure you that the majority of people out looking to get married at 3 a.m. should be arrested, not encouraged to wed. Years ago Metro’s Records Bureau decided to close to the public on the graveyard shift, although staff still works inside. When I was working there, we had to keep the Marriage License Bureau’s address handy for the lost love birds who wandered into our offices.

Price of a Vegas marriage license:

Estimated amount saved by closing the Las Vegas Marriage License Bureau between midnight and 8 a.m.:

Preventing drunken couples from saying “I do” before Elvis in the middle of the night: Priceless

Sheriff’s Race

Jerry Airola and Doug Gillespie squared off in a debate at the Clark County library (check date). Airola continues to present himself as the “change” candidate, insisting that Metro’s budget and personnel are mismanaged. Local news described Gillespie as the “traditional” candidate. I thought “qualified” was the word they were looking for.

One Big Trash Dump

Why aren’t Las Vegans more concerned about recycling? Republic continually cites opposition from citizens as its main reason to stick to its twice monthly recycles pickup. We’ve heard proposals about pilot programs for once-a-week pickup of both regular trash and recyclables, but supposedly people are concerned about the smell of the trash during the summer heat. What are people disposing of in the trash? Road kill carcasses? I think the real reason is that the average Las Vegan looks out across the miles of desert surrounding us and sees nothing but miles of potential trash dumps. (Obviously our government shares this view, since they’re trying to saddle us with Yucca Mountain.) I’ve always been surprised at the number of people who refuse to recycle because they think it generates money for Republic. Hogwash. I think Republic generates a profit by doing as little as possible for its customers. Have you encountered their Soviet-style customer service? Go ahead and try to find out what your recycling pickup days are. Or what the hours are at the transfer stations. Haven’t these people heard of the Internet?

No comments: