Check out this great video
Trails -OV is a subsidiary of STORM-OV (Saving Toads thru Off-road racing, Ranching and Mining in Oasis Valley), a long standing conservation minded group interested in balancing recreation and conservation.
STORM-OV has now launched the Oasis Valley Recreation Enhancement Project, a plan to create a massive trails project focused on enjoyment recreation and events for mountain biking, trail running and rock climbing in the Oasis Valley area of Southern Nevada
STORM-OV seeks to provide a diverse mix of recreational opportunities and business endeavors that will enhance the quality of life, support health and well being, and promote sustainable business and tourism throughout the county.
The problem is economic and emotional decline of our small town communities. Businesses are being boarded up and leaving. Unsustainable revenue stream, such as mining, comes and goes.
The youth are unable to make a future and livable wages in our small towns, with a lack of opportunities for businesses and jobs, there is no sustainable revenue stream of the taxable dollar.
David Spicer, a rancher, friend of the community, conservationist, mountain bike enthusiast and business owner in Oasis Valley in the little town town of Beatty. David has formed and is president of the non-profit organization, STORM-OV, (stands for saving toads through off-road racing, ranching, and mining).
With these controversial land users, he has brought private property owners, local, County, State, and Federal authorities together over a common cause.....keeping the Amargosa Toad off The Endangered Species List. David was raised there by his Parents and Grandparents along with siblings and a few cousins. His family ran a small dairy farm and sold milk, butter, cheese and eggs to town of Beatty. They raised all their own meat: hogs, beef, and chicken and did custom butchering for the community area. They raised their own vegetable that they produced from their gardens and it was sold in the local grocery store.
We milked by hand about a dozen cows, and made milk butter and cheese, selling to the local community. We raised all of our own meat and sold eggs too. Our garden provided vegetables for our family as well as provided produce for the local grocery store. We grew everything we needed and lived off the land. The Amargosa toads were always in and around the dairy and under the lights in the yard. I remember points in my life that defined me. I was fortunate to have mentors (being family and family friends), that could guide these moments into being the boundaries I now live my life by. One such tie was out in our alfalfa field, I was about 10, my Grandfather had been teaching us kids how to run the old John Deere Tractor, and about cutting hay. We grew it and baled it ourselves, for our dairy cows and winter feed for the beef cattle. We’d spend the entire day with him learning about the importance of crop yield. That every bale of hay was important, after all, the last bit of food for the cows just might be the one that carries the animals through winter until the spring grasses come. I don’t remember exactly why, but we left for a while, probably he’d wanted a break and sent us to the house. When we got back to the field, the cutting had been completed. For as far as you could see, the alfalfa was lying flat. You could see the patterns of how the tractor had mowed it by how it was laid. Big circles where it turned, and long straight rows...and the wonderful aroma that only comes from a fresh cut field. Grandpa met us out by the tractor, about the time we noticed something. He had missed a spot. Right in the middle of the field, there was an island of alfalfa 40’ wide and about 100’ long, at least a good bales worth. We were anxious to point this out...after all, we had spent the entire day learning how important the fields production was to us. Somehow, he knew this was coming and said before we got too raucous, “Come with me.” He walked us out to the strip of uncut hay and carefully guided us into the middle of it, telling all of us kids, “Stay behind me and don’t trample the alfalfa too much.” We were baffled after all, by now it should have been cut to the ground, who cared if we trampled it? To the middle we arrived, my Grandfather stopped and motioned to come alongside him. He said, “Look”, and pointed down into the alfalfa. We couldn’t see it at first...this thing that had stopped the haying process... the whatever it was that compelled my Grandfather to get off the tractor. He leaned over a little farther getting closer...then we saw them. Three little red spots opening and closing, and they were cheeping loudly. We hadn’t been listening earlier, they were Meadowlark chicks in their nest, complaining, that it was time to eat. My Grandfather said as he looked at them, “I almost didn’t see them.” I remember thinking he must be testing us, pulling a trick on us to see if we had listened to him earlier about farm yield. I told him, “Grandpa, it’s only a bird nest, we need that hay.” He put his arm around all of us grandkids and said, “Kids, that’s true, and to us it’s only a bale of hay, to them, it’s their life.” Those Meadowlarks survived and lived out their lives. Their children are still here today. I don’t hear one singing that I don’t hear a thanks for that moment when I was awakened some 40 years ago. My Grandfather successfully “Demonstrated” something to me. It was very effective. I never looked at things the same way again. The smallest things became important. The toad was simply part of this awareness of all things, as I grew up here.
In 1993 the community of Beatty nestled in Oasis Valley faced the first petition to list one of its amphibians, The Amargosa Toad, as endangered. During this visit and others to come, he'll talk of how this challenge was met by his community and his organizations.
What Made You Think an Endangered Listing was a problem?
I saw this as just another potential encroachment on my lifestyle by a government that had gotten so big, it can’t even manage itself. My father was an electrical engineer on the Nevada Test Site (NTS). During the 50’s and 60’s, he worked during the era of massive nuclear testing. Many people were over exposed to radiation during this time, some lethally. The government had a program giving them a method for studying possible long-term effects of radiation on human DNA. In order for them to do this, they had to track children conceived, born and raised, while one or both parents worked at the NTS. I was, along with a brother and sister, one of these children. When I turned 21, my first child was born, and I was still, twice a year, descending underground into a lead lined chamber, for a whole radiological cell count, chest x-ray, blood tests, and a full body physical. We went in twice a year because not only because our Father worked for the NTS, but also due to our dairy. See, whenever one of the nuclear bombs were set off on the surface, or if one underground vented into the atmosphere, and the wind blew in our direction.... Radioactive Fallout landed in our pastures. I remember the EPA people running Geiger counters over our milk buckets and taking samples. They would buy our total milk production, telling us it shouldn’t be sold to the town folks, but wasn’t so hot that we couldn’t drink it, and that our vegetables if washed were safe to eat. No one really knew the potential consequences of these actions and decisions. But, one sure thing has become crystal clear, that we citizens had to educate ourselves and maintain consciousness of the consequences of any government decision.
The “Endangered Species Act” is no different than Nuclear testing, the government has and is defending them at all costs and thinks not of the effect nor consequences upon the civilization it’s been hired to represent.
How do the people of your community feel about this analogy?
How have they responded to the Government?
Has the Community shared in your experiences?
Certainly, most all of the property owners here worked for the NTS, knew someone who did, or as I was, in school when most of this went on. Our shared experience comes from this and from an event in the mid 70’s. As a result of all these things, the folks here don’t like the government very much. I’m talking about when the “Ash Meadows Pup Fish” went on the “Endangered Species List”. Most of us remember this vividly. We watched while our neighbors in Amargosa (in my case, my classmates), lost their farms, hopes and dreams....
The newspapers covered the threats that arose during this time. We all felt helpless while government ownership of Ash Meadows grew, and private land rights diminished. When the petition to list the Toad as “Endangered” by a Denver based Environmental Group, combined with their threat to sue the U.S.F.W.S. (US Fish & Wildlife Service.) hit the news, tempers flared. Our town was ready to “Lock and Load”. We were not going to let anyone reduce our rights to use our land, private or otherwise – after all by God, - we live here...not those damn environmentalists. Worse yet, they were “Out of Stater’s” ! It would have been so easy to join this idea to just flat out deny there were no toads on my property – go somewhere else Mr. regulator. No toads – No Problems.
Why didn’t you “Lock and Load”?
My problem was that I knew this would be a losing proposition. I couldn’t do the “Wild West” thing, times had changed. As times changed and taxes, insurance, regulations and commodity markets changed... Our ability to support the farm diminished. We couldn’t produce enough products to support the added costs. The property here, simply did not have a large enough agricultural base to survive. We had to diversify. We started a gravel pit to serve local needs.. Got involved with many exploration companies looking for Gold, Silver and uranium in our area as service contractors. Opened up old mining shafts, exploring and sampling them for our clients. Set up a mineral exploration company, including permitting, drilling, geologic evaluation and analytical analysis. We got technical and serious.
We also became aware of things in the bigger World beyond the cattle guards at each end of the Valley. I watched my ability to do business diminish and sometimes stopped by new Federal Laws coming out of Congress, and the new environmental ones surrounding the “Endangered Species Act”. It occurred to me that if the entire Timber industry could be shut down by the Spotted Owl, that a major mine, a key to resource vital to this country, could be held up by numerous environmental issues, and that our grazing cattle were no longer welcome on public land. That our denial and anger against these Laws were a feeble defense. I also knew that slowly but surely these laws were creeping onto our Private Property, and into our homes. The right to use our land as our Grandfather’s did, pitted us against an omnipotent force, one that all of us don’t understand and certainly were never prepared to face.
What did you want?
I wanted to live “unmolested”. I want for all of us to live unmolested on our ranches. Free to run like the horses who live on them. To use the land as is our right to do. As is our right to raise our children between the same sunrises and sunsets that we grew up under. Pursue our passions as our fathers and grandfathers did before us. Open the eyes of our children to the beauty in the world and stir within them that feeling you get when your horse is at a dead run through the pasture, you’re chasing the wind, it’s roaring in your ears, tears running down your face, you can feel your animal’s power, feel him racing, mane flying in your face. You hit that magical spot where all goes quiet and you can hear his hooves pounding...hear his great breaths, heaving, in and out, you feel the air go quiet all around you.....You’ve caught the wind and you’re riding with it.
This is what I want this feeling of absolute freedom and the sense of amazement that comes with the discovery. Things like this stay with you all your life. Somewhere beyond all the chaos, noise and confusion of life, there is a quiet spot, and there you can see the World and all of its beauty..