Sunday, April 24, 2011
Wild & Free Tourism
In early April, I walked the back roads of Nevada on a wild horse photo safari. Guided by photographer Mark Terrell, members of the Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) sketched, photographed and wondered at the beauty of wild Nevada.
During Part I of the SCBWI mentorship conference last year, two wild horses ventured near the Saint Mary's Art Center in Virginia, City and attendees' excitement led me to suggest a "horse hike" for Part 2 of the conference.
To say there was enthusiasm for the idea is an understatement.
The "horse hike" turned into a huge perk of the conference. One trek expanded to two, then three, so visitors could venture forth in small enough groups that they'd still see natural wild horse behavior.
Without exception, visitors were awed by the landscape and animals. Negative publicity had led them to expect ravaged rangelands and starving mustangs. Instead, they saw sleek wild horses, frisky foals and breathtaking basin-and-range scenery. They heard wild birdsong and smelled sagebrush they'd only read about and vowed to return with family and friends.
I want wild horses saved because I believe in their intrinsic value. Those who don't "get" the value of Nature, should be able to appreciate their money-making potential.
Multi-use of open lands must include low-impact tourism. Motels and restaurants, gas stations and gift shops -- especially in struggling rural areas -- can benefit from wild horse tourism, without up-front investment. The horses are already here and, left alone, will take care of themselves.
Wild horse tourism is a green money-maker, but virtually untapped. The SCBWI group searched Virginia City shops for wild horse memorabilia -- tshirts, mugs, books, even postcards -- and went home empty-handed.
When I snagged wild horse caps from the Wild Horse Preservation League, they became prized mementos.
Even brief glimpses of mustangs make people want to return to Nevada.
SCBWI's wild horse hike jump-started plans for an "Art of the Wild Horse" convention. Facebook, Twitter and blog
postings about the wild horse adventure have touched off wild horse fever nationwide, and in other countries.
Tourism groups in European and Scandinavia countries are at their wits ends that America thinks so little of the wild horses they can't wait to see.
Every day in Nevada, mustangs are trapped and trucked away from their ancestral lands to make way for mines, gas pipelines, tract homes and mini-storage facilities.
Such trade-offs don't benefit Nevada, but industry and the Department of the Interior have convinced law-makers to swap the rare treasure of wild horses for the mundane.
Visitors laugh in disbelief when they hear of legislation barring wild horses from drinking Nevada water, but it's no joke. AB329 has passed the Assembly and is headed for the state senate. And of course the only way to keep thirsty animals from drinking is to get rid of them.
If you agree Nevada SHOULD NOT throw away a no-cost stimulus package brought to us by Nevada's wild horses, please If you would like to E-Mail Governor Brian Sandoval by clicking here
Labels: SCBWI mentorship conference, wild horse tourism
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Terri Farley @ 11:27 AM