Opinion: The proposed East Las Vegas National Monument is a beacon of hope

Credit: Google Earth

By Mathilda Guerrero

April 11, 2024

Growing up on American Beauty, my childhood was embraced by landscapes that are now—just a stone’s throw from the edge of East Las Vegas—being proposed as a national monument.

I experienced firsthand the transformative power of nature — those formative years, spent within the embrace of Frenchman Mountain, the vibrant Rainbow Gardens, and near the geological marvel of The Great Unconformity, instilled in me an enduring reverence for these natural wonders. This vast, 32,618-acre landscape, is not just a swath of land, it is a sanctuary calling out for recognition and protection, a beacon of hope for communities in dire need of accessible and enriching natural spaces.

Each sunrise over Frenchman Mountain painted my early mornings in hues of radiant gold, kindling a sense of adventure and wonder that has lasted a lifetime. The Rainbow Gardens, with their brilliant tapestry woven by time’s patient hands, were the playgrounds of my youth, where imagination ran as wild as the colors themselves. And at the precipice of The Great Unconformity, I stood many times, touching the very narrative of Earth that has spanned millions of years, feeling connected to something far greater than myself.

Yet, despite the pristine beauty of my childhood memories, the reality of this landscape in its current state reveals a pressing need for improved management and care. Despite ongoing efforts to clean and preserve these spaces, the landscape is marred by the all-too-common sight of discarded Panda Express containers, empty beer cases, scattered shards of glass, and shells from gunfire.

These remnants of neglect and misuse not only detracts from the area’s natural allure but also compromises the safety and serenity that it rightfully deserves. It’s a stark reminder that this haven, which provided me countless hours of joy and discovery, now requires a concerted effort from our communities to protect, restore, and maintain its pristine condition for future generations.

Today, as we envision the East Las Vegas National Monument, it’s more than a bid to conserve a stunning piece of our planet. It is about creating a safe haven, a place of joy and wonder, right at the doorstep of the communities that need it most. This area, which played such a pivotal role in my own childhood, is poised to become the nearest and most accessible natural refuge for current and future generations of East Las Vegas residents, transforming outdoor experiences from a luxury to an everyday reality for them.

The urgency to protect and honor this land is more than an environmental cause; it’s a commitment to community well-being. It’s a statement that access to the grandeur of nature, to places that shaped my childhood dreams and adventures, is a right that should extend beyond the boundaries of one’s zip code. Protecting this area means we are not only preserving its beauty but are actively fostering a space where safety, joy, and the splendor of nature are interwoven into the lives of all who visit.

This call to action is also a personal invitation to each resident of East Las Vegas to engage in the stewardship of this land. It’s an opportunity to enrich the enduring story of this landscape and to elevate the quality of our shared outdoor experiences. Every trail I once explored, every tree that shaded my youthful adventures, and every memory forged in this land can now become part of a collective journey towards a future where our natural heritage is deeply honored and cherished.

In standing united for the East Las Vegas National Monument, we echo the resilience of these mountains. We step forward as guardians of Frenchman Mountain’s magnificence, protectors of the Rainbow Gardens’ vibrancy, and keepers of the wisdom held within The Great Unconformity.

By embracing this role, we are committing to a legacy where the magic of nature is not a fleeting moment, but a constant source of inspiration and happiness for everyone in East Las Vegas. Together, we have the power to shape a future where nature is woven into the very essence of our community, guiding our steps and enriching our collective spirit.

 

The Great Unconformity

Opinion: The proposed East Las Vegas National Monument is a beacon of hope

Rainbow Gardens

Opinion: The proposed East Las Vegas National Monument is a beacon of hope

 

 

 

 

 

Frenchman Mountain

Opinion: The proposed East Las Vegas National Monument is a beacon of hope

  • Mathilda Guerrero

    Mathilda Guerrero, Kānaka Maoli, serves as Native Voters Alliance Nevada/Indigenous Voices of Nevada’s Government Relations Director. Prior to this role, Mathilda honed her communications and crisis management skills at Battle Born Progress and Institute for a Progressive Nevada. Mathilda began her journey in the Progressive Movement as Silver State Voices’ Democracy Manager, where she coordinated the Let Nevadans Vote coalition and spearheaded Nevada’s nonpartisan Election Protection program. Before making waves in grassroots organizing, Mathilda dedicated herself to public service and empowering young, upcoming professionals during her time with the City of Henderson. Mathilda graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and holds a B.A. in Political Science and, most recently, earned her Masters in Public Policy Public Administration from Purdue University. When she is not fighting for a more liberated world and a representative democracy, you can find her at Makers and Finders, binge-watching Game of Thrones (over and over again), or exploring with the love of her life, Dakota.

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