Mount Charleston Has A New Area Manager
Officially, it’s called the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area. But to locals in Southern Nevada, it’s better known as Mount Charleston.
The area is popular for hiking, skiing and camping, and it’s also home to more than 50 rare plants and animals.
Deborah MacNeill is the new area manager, and with a big fire season expected, she has a lot of work to do.
“We are already ramping up for pre-season fire now," MacNeill told KNPR's State of Nevada. "The outlook is a little bit above normal because of the precipitation that we’ve had and the grasses in the lower elevations."
MacNeill said the Forest Service partners with several different government agencies during this time of year to talk about the plans for the fire season.
She said each agency from the Bureau of Land Management to the National Park Service have individual plans for fire management but they all work together to be prepared for the season.
“Regardless of where the fire is whoever is closest to it will respond, similar to law enforcement," she said.
They also work with local fire departments in Mount Charleston township, Clark and Nye County to clear areas of underbrush and damaged or dead trees.
They also talk to residents on the mountain about making their homes more defensible when fire season starts.
Beyond preparing for fire season, MacNeill said the Forest Service partners with volunteer, conservation and user groups to make sure visitors to the area are well informed and safe.
“I believe that working with our partners and stakeholders in the communities is critical to management in general as well as the Spring Mountains and our visitors,” she said.
The Southern Nevada Conservancy runs the visitor center that opened recently. The center has camping and picnicking sites nearby along with information about the Spring Mountains, including where to hike, where to stay and where to park.
A new project underway on the mountain this summer will update about 33 camping sites that haven't been worked on since the 1980s, MacNeill said.
The new and improved sites will be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and have better bathroom facilities. To compensate for the closed camping sites, MacNeill said they would open sites that would be available only for locals and not available for reservation through recreation.gov.
Deborah MacNeill, area manager, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area