Nevada Senator Warns Administration Over Land-grab

The battle over Nevada’s public land continues. Senator Dean Heller is warning the Obama administration against designating the Gold Butte region of Clark County as a national monument.

Gold Butte is the same area where Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management came face to face in a stand-off over grazing rights. The 400,000-acre region sits north and east of Lake Mead and across the border from Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Heller wrote that another ‘land grab,’ “would not serve the area well.” He said it would escalate an already tense situation, “in a region of our state where tensions are already presently high.”

In February, Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to grant the Gold Butte area monument status as a way to protect wildlife habitat, mining artifacts and Indian petroglyphs. In her letter, Titus called Gold Butte “a national treasure in Southern Nevada.”

“I believe that the Gold Butte area of Southern Nevada merits consideration for National Monument designation,” Titus wrote.

That same month, a report by the Center for American Progress listed Gold Butte among “high-profile land conservation bills languishing in Congress,” along with the Pine Forest Range in Humboldt County. Nevada’s Senator Harry Reid and Congressman Steven Horsford introduced bills last year to name Gold Butte and the surrounding area for upgraded wilderness and conservation protections, though not national monument status.

Because of this, environmentalists believe presidential action is justified to protect natural wonders as Congress becomes gridlocked on natural resource bills. On May 21st, Obama designated 500,000 acres in the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks region of southern New Mexico as a national monument.

Heller said it should be the Nevada delegation that works with local residents on a “grass-roots driven, public and transparent congressionally approved process for public lands designations.”

“Unlike my colleague who placed this request,” Heller wrote, “I am extremely concerned about the impact a unilateral designation will have on my state.”

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