Fountains in a Desert: Place-Making and Collective Action in Snake Valley, Great Basin Against Southern Nevada Water Authority's Groundwater Development Project
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This thesis explores how a diverse coalition of rural residents, ranchers, Native American tribes, and environmental activists -- many of them united under the grassroots organization known as the Great Basin Water Network (GBWN) -- have successfully created, used, and negotiated differing senses of place to resist the construction and implementation of a rural-to-urban inter-basin water transfer project. The Groundwater Development Project, first proposed in 1989 and later revived in 2004, is an effort by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) to obtain water for the expanding Las Vegas metropolitan area. However, in the face of fierce resistance, led by the aforementioned coalition -- which is centered in Snake Valley on the Nevada/Utah border -- SNWA has yet to be granted the legal precedent to complete the multibillion dollar pipeline project. Drawing from the theoretical lenses of place-framing and relational place-making, this thesis shows that the social construction of place is a powerful tool in grassroots organizing and politics; a tool, in this case, that has been greatly enhanced through an existing network of people and places, originally formed in the early 1980s to resist the MX Missile Project, which has been effectively revived to engage in protest against SNWA's Groundwater Development Project.