By Gina Smith
September 27, 2012

You would be hard-pressed to find a long-time Lincoln County resident who does not have fond memories of Ash Springs – memories of the old gas station, the rope, jumping into just-right water on a hot, summer day or even camping by the springs.

Although things change – the old gas station is no longer there, replaced decades ago by R-Place, and the larger pond (“Big Ash”) is no longer available to the public – “Little Ash” is technically still there to enjoy.

However, there is a growing concern over Little Ash.  These days, it is constantly over-crowded, mostly with visitors from out of town. Additionally, there are a growing number of people who are disregarding the rules of the site, which is regulated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

There are signs clearly stating no dogs allowed, but visitors let their dogs run free on the property. Lines of cars are parked right next to the “No Parking” signs. Trash is scattered virtually everywhere. This then becomes a breeding ground for diseased-infested rats, raccoons, cockroaches and other critters.

Some residents are concerned that this may affect the quality of the water, which irrigates ranches, farms and gardens throughout the Pahranagat Valley. How about a little raccoon poop in your irrigation water? Children often play in the water on irrigation day as it soaks yards and the park in the center of Alamo.

This reporter and a friend went to Little Ash on a recent Saturday to take pictures of the property. Some individuals saw what we were doing and began cleaning up some of the mess. Later, a large group came to us as we stood by my car and took pictures and videos of us and the car’s license plate number.

BLM Caliente Field office Victoria Barr expressed that the BLM is “proactively involved in patrolling the area and are looking at putting up bilingual signs.” The bilingual signs are supposed to help non-English speakers understand the rules. During our visit, two days after speaking to Ms. Barr, there were bilingual signs yet still disregard for the rules. There were no BLM officials present within the two-hour time frame we were there.

The land of Little Ash is owned by the BLM, though directly adjacent parcels are owned by private individuals. The rights to the irrigation water that the spring produces belong to individuals and organizations throughout the valley.

Many parties – be it the BLM, private land and water right owners, businesses, local residents or visitors – have a stake in this little spot. The question is will they come together to find a solution, or will it become just another place we remember fondly with a locked fence around it.