“The wild places are now seen not as an enemy but as a vanishing resource. As the neon lights glare even brighter and the miles of paved roads wind ever onward, the chance of escape to the solitude of the roadless area, an unspoiled forest or an untamed river, become ever more precious. Congress recognized the importance of preserving this chance for today’s Americans and for all generations to come when it passed the Wilderness Act of 1964.”
- New York Times, April 23, 1967
Although known for bright neon lights, busy casino floors, and a rapidly expanding urban population, Southern Nevada is also home to some of the world's most rare plant and animal species. The Devils Hole pupfish exists in only one place on earth: a cavern two hours west of Las Vegas. About four hours away from the city, Tiehm's buckwheat, a rare wildflower, grows in the Silver Peak Range of Esmeralda County on just 10 acres of land and nowhere else in the world. For thousands of years, Native peoples have been caretakers of both land and species, yet they must fight to set aside even the most sacred of spaces. With Southern Nevada’s explosive growth, these spiritual places and natural habitats are in peril as cities and corporations expand into the surrounding desert. From cacti found on the desert floor, to bristlecone pines living for centuries on the state’s highest peaks, Nevada’s environmental diversity is documented throughout these collections.
Researchers and environmentalists study and fight to protect our lands and species, while artists draw inspiration from the unique landscapes of the Silver State. UNLV Special Collections and Archives contains the records of researchers, professors, activists, and artists who study arid lands and rare species. Available for research are scientific data, correspondence, government publications, and books focusing on our region’s environment. Also available are the personal papers and artwork of the artists who are inspired to write poetry, photograph, and paint what they experience in these unique spaces.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas wishes to acknowledge and honor the Indigenous communities of this region, and recognize that the university is situated on the traditional homelands of the Nuwuvi, Southern Paiute People. We offer gratitude for the land itself, for those who have stewarded it for generations, and for the opportunity to study, learn, work, and be in community with this land. We encourage everyone in this space to engage in continued learning about the Indigenous peoples who work and live on this land since time immemorial, including the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe and the Moapa Band of Paiutes, and about the historical and present realities of colonialism.