Some news from our friends at the Southern Nevada Rock Art Association. Their next meeting is on Monday, July 27th, from 6:45 to 8:45 pm, at the Boca Park REI, 710 S. Rampart Blvd. The guest speaker will be Deron Duke, PhD of Far Western Anthropological Research Group presenting "New Finds Suggest Mammoth Hunting in the Great Salt Lake Desert."
Recent finds from the Great Salt Lake Desert are providing new evidence about the nature and distribution of Haskett projectile points in the Great Basin. The Haskett type is a rarely found representative of the Western Stemmed Tradition, a Paleoindian stone tool complex. The type is interpreted to be a spear point for hunting large game. A group of dates collected near the finds indicates ages between 13,000 and 12,000 calendar years ago for the wetlands used by hunters. The assemblage includes the largest complete Haskett specimen yet documented archaeologically, and another specimen that has tested positive to antiserum of the elephant family, presumably mammoth.
Check out the SNRAA events page for more information and future presentations. Their August talk will feature some of Sloan Canyon's own site stewards, Gordon Hamilton & Paul Renois!
The National Conservations Lands system has some new local additions. Basin and Range National Monument was established by President Obama today along with Berryessa Snow Mountain in Northern California and Waco Mammoth in Texas.
Basin and Range is about 2 hours north of Las Vegas and spans Coal and Garden Valleys along with much of the Golden Gate, Worthington and Seaman Ranges. It's a shot at conserving not just one small portion of an ecosystem but more of a connected whole that should help protect species as they migrate and adapt to different areas in response to changes in climate.
Like Sloan Canyon NCA Basin and Range is rich in cultural history with rock art sites scatters throughout the area, including well known sites in both the Mt. Irish and White River Narrows Archeological Districts. It's also the home of City, a monumental work of art created by Michael Heizer over the past 40+ years. City is 1.25 miles long and .25 mile wide, roughly the size of the Washington DC's National Mall, and consists of a series of complexes reflecting aspects of both ancient architecture and modern technology.
You can find out more about Basin and Range National Monument with tips on visiting at Jim Boone's Bird and Hike website.
Welcome Basin and Range National Monument!
With an increase in general visitation at Sloan Canyon NCA and work underway on the access road and contact station south of the Inspirada community Friends of Sloan Canyon will be scouring the metro Las Vegas area this summer looking for people willing to volunteer their time supporting our group's primary projects and initiatives.
Do you spend significant time on Sloan's trail system? Whether you move with shoes, pedals or hooves you can make a difference by joining our trail monitoring team. Reporting conditions in the NCA helps BLM deal with issues such as graffiti, trash dumping and trail erosion.
As issues are reported we'll be working with BLM to get maintenance crews out to repair trails, place signage, restore damaged habitat and generally keep the NCA's infrastructure in good shape.
If the natural beauty, science and community surrounding Sloan Canyon NCA appeals to you more than hitting the trails you're welcome to join us in our outreach and education efforts! We're always looking for people to help organize events & meetups, exhibit at places like farmers markets & community events and educate people of all ages on the natural and geologic wonders of our local National Conservation Area.
In celebration of the 15th anniversary of your National Conservation Lands system the Bureau of Land Management is in the process of redoing the websites for all of the system's units including Sloan Canyon NCA. This refresh includes new online maps available now! There are both interactive and printable versions available, and they work great on mobile devices.
Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area encompasses a 75 square mile area of volcanic hills, an abundance of desert-dwelling plants and animals and amazing cultural resources just to the south of Anthem and Henderson. It is the area surrounding the McCullough Mountains with boundaries from roughly I-15 on the west to Railroad Pass to the east extending south to the edge of Jean Dry Lake. Approximately 17,000 acres within the NCA were designated as wilderness by Congress in a 2002 public lands bill.
Temperatures may top 105F (40.6C) for 90 to 100 consecutive days from June to October with an average of 3 inches of rain. The winter and summer pattern of rainfall in this desert stimulates the growth for plant and animal species such as creosote and bursage flats, mesquite, and an abundance of cacti, including cholla.
Wildlife include the big horn sheep, the endangered desert tortoise, lizards, and rattlesnakes. Every plant and animal has adapted to an environment we would find uninhabitable.
Birds have a great advantage in being able to fly to find desert water. You'll find the best birdwatching from February to May and August to November during migrations. Look for warblers, swallows, flycatchers, and phoebes along vegetation-lined washes. Red-tailed hawks soar year-round. Coveys of Gambel’s quail make the NCA their permanent home as well.
Sloan’s wildlife has developed many mechanisms to survive the desert’s heat and survive for months without rain such as burrowing, nocturnal living, and astonishing water conservation techniques The only water sources around are natural rock basins called tinajas that catch rainwater, a few artificial water areas, and flowing washes after rains. Never expect to find water available for your use.
Light-colored fur helps mammals like mountain lions reflect, not 'soak' in the heat. The scales of lizards help them deflect heat too. Perhaps most incredible are the built-in water saving abilities of many desert animals. Some of Sloan NCA’s bighorn sheep may go for weeks or months without visiting a water hole. The sheep draw some moisture from food and rainwater pooled in rocks, and can survive despite losing up to 30 percent of their body weight. When water is plentiful, the bighorns quickly recover.
Almost three-quarters of all desert animals are burrowers. Desert Tortoises become dormant in burrows during the hottest and coldest times of the year, when temperatures fluctuate only two degrees F just 18 inches below the surface. Kangaroo rats, pocket mice, ground squirrels, and snakes all find underground shelters.
Cold-blooded reptiles like hot, dry climates. Lizards and snakes dash and slither throughout the NCA. Side-blotched lizards turn up just about everywhere. Whiptail lizards brave the heat of the day in search of termites and other insects. Desert horned lizards hunt for ants in valleys and washes. These lizards can defend themselves by squirting blood from their eye sockets.
At least 15 species of snakes live here, including six kinds of rattlesnakes. Three of those rattlesnake species are common: the sidewinder, recognized at once by its sideways locomotion and "horns" above its eyes; the western diamondback rattlesnake, largest of the bunch, living primarily in the lower hills; and the Mojave Green rattlesnake possesses the most toxic venom of our rattlesnakes and rarely rattles, even when disturbed.
Snakes would rather leave you alone, if you leave them alone. They play an important role as predators in the desert community. Before heading into the desert, pick up information on snake bite prevention from the BLM office.
The present day serenity of Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area contrasts to its violent volcanic past. Sloan Canyon contains one of the best records of volcanic activity in the Las Vegas area and contains at least eight volcanoes that erupted from time to time millions of years ago. Volcanoes that have not erupted for a while, but which may erupt again, are considered dormant. Volcanoes that have not erupted for thousands of years are called extinct. All the volcanoes at Sloan Canyon are extinct.
For more information read Volcanoes of the McCullough Range, Southern Nevada by Eugene Smith, Denise Honn and Racheal Johnsen, Department of Geoscience, UNLV.
From the paper:
The McCullough Range preserves a unique record of Miocene volcanism in the western Lake Mead area of Nevada. The basal part of the volcanic section is composed of interbedded basalt and dacite of the McClanahan Spring, Cactus Hill, and McCullough Wash volcanoes (Eldorado Valley volcanic section), and the Colony volcano, which is age-equivalent to, but does not crop out within, the Eldorado Valley volcanic section (18.5–15.2 Ma).