Facebook group garners love for Nevada’s often overlooked sights.
BY ERIC CACHINERO
“We all have one thing in common, and that is our love of this state.” This element of the Nevada Backroads ethos is not easily misinterpreted. It’s pretty tough to misjudge such appreciation; such admiration. This love sparked from a couple friends sharing their back-road photos on Facebook and has transformed into a well-oiled community of dedicated Nevada lovers sharing information collected at nearly every corner of the state.
KICKIN’ UP DUST
It’s no surprise that technology has the ability to gather people with similar interests, but what is happening in this case of the Nevada Backroads Facebook group (NBR) is special. Created in late 2013 by Kyle Blunt, the community has grown to nearly 7,000 members, and is a place for people to express what Nevada means to them. Photographs, anecdotes, road conditions, trip suggestions, the catch of the day, and the most scenic way are common topics in the group, but just barely scratch the surface of the conversations that occur. NBR is a place to appreciate, share, and learn. Chris Hegg, Chris Lawrence, David Strange, and Allen Lynn join Kyle as a dedicated group of NBR administrators who tirelessly ensure that things run smoothly on the page.
“We wanted people to know that there is more to Nevada than just Reno or Las Vegas,” says NBR administrator Chris Lawrence. “Not only that, we wanted to encourage people to get out and see different parts of the state, along with people who can’t physically get out for themselves.”
As the group picked up steam, so did the scope of its projects. Members went from just posting photos to organizing cleanups at hot springs and trash-dump sites. Another element of the group’s ethos explains this well: “We are all stewards of Nevada’s public lands and we strive to lead by example.”
“We’ve always put things like ‘pack-it-in-pack-it-out’ first,” Kyle explains. “Our members are great about cleaning up others people’s garbage; many have actually done area cleanups amongst themselves or by themselves.”
Kyle says that within the first year of NBR’s creation, a member posted a picture showing a small oil spill in the desert. Within weeks, the site was cleaned thanks directly to efforts of the group.
“One of our admins got him info for the regulatory agency in that area,” Kyle explains. “A couple weeks later he posted pictures of the contaminated area after it was all cleaned up. One of our members did this and it makes us feel good that the word is getting out.”
NBR members are also volunteering man-hours for several other organizations aimed to preserve the state’s wildlife. Groups such as Nevada Bighorns Unlimited and the Nevada Department of Wildlife have received increased turnouts at guzzler and fence-build projects that make it easier for bighorn sheep and other animals to survive.
The sense of community has become so strong that some members display T-shirts and window decals as badges of honor, some even appearing on vehicles owned by Nevada fans as far away as New Zealand. Available on the group’s website, decals, shirts, and hoodies sporting NBR designs are available. Rumor has it that the group is also working on an official flag. The money collected from merchandise sales is then invested directly back into the group.
“All of the money is used for guzzlers and our annual gatherings,” Chris Lawrence says.
A NOT-SO-LONESOME TRAIL
In 2015, it became obvious that all the people sharing so much about Nevada needed to meet up and explore the backroads together. The inaugural gathering took place in Luning, and the 2016 gathering took place in Hawthorne. Concurrent with Armed Forces Days, NBR members explored ghost towns, enjoyed barbecue, cleaned up trash, and experienced the sights the areas have to offer. In addition to the gatherings, NBR occasionally hosts trail rides, achieving their goal of getting more people out to see new things and places around Nevada.
Nevadabackroads.org launched in 2015, and has since acted as another resource for NBR members. The site hosts classifieds, discussion boards for everything from off-roading to fishing, Nevada business information, and an event calendar. In addition, NBR has set up special geocaches around the state, and members can post their adventures finding them.
SHINY SIDE UP
This community of dedicated Nevada lovers receives its life through its members and the impact they have on the state. With such a rapidly growing user base comes challenges, but with those challenges comes camaraderie. NBR members help each other, evidenced by something as small as relaying the condition of a road, to something as large as driving out into the middle of the desert to help a stranded member they’ve never met.
NBR’s future looks bright. More members means more stewardship, and though the group is growing fast, the message remains the same. Kyle says he hopes that NBR can eventually become a non-profit organization focusing on education.
“There is so much history in this state and so much beauty that even long-time residents haven’t seen,” Kyle says. “But until then, we’ll stick with small projects like trail maintenance and try to get our members involved with whatever we can.”
NEVADA BACKROADS FACEBOOK GROUP
Do you love Nevada? Click here to check out the Nevada Backroads Facebook group and see if you think it may be for you. “Our requirements are simple,” Kyle says. “To become a member you have to have the love of Nevada and when you’re out and about to respect our public lands.”