In her passionate and personal account of the American desert, Mary Austin described this arid environment as a “land of lost rivers, with little in it to love; yet a land once visited must be come back to inevitably.” It was in these bottomlands of the Las Vegas valley that I developed an appreciation for the value of the most ordinary and often ignored and abused landscapes. While a high school student the Las Vegas Wash became my Walden, a place described by Thoreau in words that mirror the Wash, a landscape which “does not approach grandeur, nor can it much concern one who has not long frequented it or lived by it.” The Las Vegas Wash should be protected as a wetland, not because it is wilderness or nature, but because it is cultural, urban and man-made. It is a landscape where we can learn about our relationships with the desert, it is an expression of a social order as well as a natural occurrence.
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