Bill introduced to protect public lands in Nevada

Would expand size of Red Rock Conservation Area
Valley of Fire State Park Landscape at Sunrise near Las Vegas, Nevada
Rural Nevada Photo credit roman_slavik/Getty Images

Las Vegas, NV (KXNT) - On Wednesday, Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto introduced the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act. The bipartisan legislation would protect over 2 million acres of public land for conservation and recreation while allowing Clark County to develop affordable housing and responsibly plan for population growth projections.

“It is vital that we preserve the incredible outdoor spaces that provide immense economic, cultural, and ecological value to Southern Nevada, while also allowing Las Vegas and its surrounding communities to diversify their economies and provide additional affordable housing to Nevada families,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My legislation will ensure Clark County can do both by laying the ground rules for sustainable expansion and affordable housing development while also addressing the threat of climate change through the largest conservation bill in Nevada history. As Southern Nevada rebuilds its economy after COVID-19 and anticipates adding another 820,000 residents by 2060, we must continue our important conservation and climate change mitigation work so the Valley can continue to be a great place for Nevadans to live, work, and recreate for centuries to come.”

The legislation was crafted with input from conservationists, city and county officials, business leaders, tribal leaders, and wildlife and recreation interests.

Some of the bill’s highlights include,

- Setting aside over 2 million acres of federally-owned land in Clark County for habitat conservation, outdoor recreation, and cultural and landscape preservation.

- A 51,000-acre expansion of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, full wilderness designations to over 1.3 million acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and 337,406 additional acres of wilderness in Clark County

- Proponents say the bill would allow for the development of more affordable housing, and would make it easier for local governments to reserve federal land and partner with affordable housing developers.

- The bill allows Clark County to develop a net 30,633 acres for affordable housing and business growth over the next 50 years.