Fossil finder opposes closing Pine Nuts to ORVs |

Fossil finder opposes closing Pine Nuts to ORVs

by Kurt Hildebrand
Derek Prosser is against BLM's closing of the area to vehicle traffic to preserve fossils. The Carson Valley man discovered fossilized mastodon bones while riding his motorcycle in the Pine Nut Mountains in 2000. Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal News Service

The Carson Valley man who discovered fossil mastodon bones said it was like finding out his dog had died when he learned a portion of the Pine Nut Mountains would be closed to vehicle traffic.

“This is something that I grew up with that got worse,” Derek Prosser said Wednesday. “It’s like waking up and finding out your dog died.”

Prosser found the fossils while riding his dirt bike in the area between Pinenut and Fish Spring roads in east Carson Valley in April 2000.

He received national media attention for the discovery at the time.

“The last thing I wanted was for this to be closed down,” the Western Nevada Community College welding student said. “There are riders from all over the world who come to the Pine Nuts.”

Prosser, now 22 and the father of a 3-year-old girl, said riding in the Pine Nuts that kept him out of trouble as a teenager.

“After I read the story, I went to the high school and insisted on seeing a counselor or the principal,” he said. “I told them your crime rate is going up because there isn’t much for kids to do in Gardnerville except riding in the Pine Nuts or the skatepark, and they’re taking half of that away.”

Prosser, who has been riding in the Pine Nuts since he was 7 years old, disputed the claim that off-road vehicles are responsible for erosion.

“Water causes erosion,” he said. “I go to school for welding , and I know that. A 4-inch wide motorcycle tire or 9-inch ATV tire is nothing compared to a flood.”

He said that in 15 years of riding, he only found one set of mastodon bones.

Bureau of Land Management rangers will enforce the ban on the land, which straddles Pinenut Road deeper into the mountains.

Vehicles will continue to use Pinenut Road through the area, but off-road traffic will be prohibited, according to Chuck Pope, the Bureau of Land Management’s assistant field manager for non-renewable resources in Carson City.

Pope said signs will go up in the next few weeks along roads and trails in the area.

Contact Kurt Hildebrand at or 881-1215.