Tuesday June 4th, 2024

Cortez Masto Reintroduces Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act

Washington, D.C. Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) reintroduced her Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act. The bipartisan legislation will protect over 2 million acres of public land for conservation and recreation while allowing Clark County to grow responsibly, build more housing for hardworking Nevada families, and support economic development across the region. This text would be the largest conservation bill in Nevada history.

“This legislation will protect our lands, lower housing costs, and support responsible economic development,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’ve spent years championing this bill and will continue to push for commonsense actions that will help Las Vegas grow responsibly and combat climate change, while preserving millions of acres in Clark County for conservation and outdoor recreation.”

“A significant amount of work has gone into this legislation over the last few years, but especially this last year as we have worked to support both environmental protection and responsible development,” said Tick Segerblom, Chair of the Clark County Commission. “The Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act reflects pressing priorities for our region which includes access to additional land to increase access to affordable home development while also ensuring that the beautiful landscape of our region remains protected for future generations. This balance is not easy to achieve, but we thank Senator Cortez Masto for her commitment to working with Clark County and our residents through this bill and look forward to this becoming law.”

“Conserving America’s public lands is a key strategy to ensure the future for wildlife and the health of our communities. The historic protections this bill will bring are a positive step forward. We thank Senator Cortez Masto for striking the right balance and advancing conservation priorities including permanently protecting key areas within the Desert National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness and expanding protections for Red Rock Canyon and Sloan Canyon National Conservation Areas. These designations will add to the Senator’s conservation record securing designations for Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, Pistone-Black Mountain and Numunaa Nobe National Conservation Areas, and several Wilderness areas,” said Jocelyn Torres, Interim Co-Executive Director at the Conservation Lands Foundation.

“We are deeply grateful to Senator Cortez Masto for listening to her constituents who cherish Clark County’s vast public lands and want them protected for generations to come,” said Shaaron Netherton, Executive Director, Friends of Nevada Wilderness. “This bill would be the single largest designation of Wilderness acres in the state’s history, ensuring continued public access and critical habitat and cultural resource protection on more than 1.6 million acres. After years of leading a collaborative effort to secure permanent protection of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge from military expansions that would impact public access, Friends now looks forward to working with Senator Cortez Masto to get this bill passed and make that protection a reality.”

“Nevada HAND, as the largest affordable housing developer in the state, is grateful for U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s work on the Clark County lands bill. We fully support the Senator’s draft legislation, which represents a concerted effort to unite Southern Nevada stakeholders in prioritizing long-term conservation, economic development, and the acceleration of affordable housing development,” said Audra Hamernik, Nevada HAND President & CEO.

This updated legislation will allow Clark County to responsibly develop a net 25,000 acres over the next 50 years, while preserving over 2 million acres of land for conservation and outdoor recreation. It was crafted with input from conservationists, city and county officials, business leaders, tribal leaders, and wildlife and recreation interests.

The Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act:

  • Prioritizes the use of federal land for conservation, recreation, and other public purposes 
    • This text sets aside over 2 million acres of federally-owned land in Clark County for habitat conservation, outdoor recreation, and cultural and landscape preservation. 
    • Specifically, it includes a 56,000-acre expansion of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a 9,290-acre expansion of the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, full wilderness designations to nearly 1.3 million acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and 324,048 additional acres of wilderness in Clark County. 
    • This text also identifies nearly 359,000 additional acres for wildlife habitat preservation and reserves 120,657 acres for 4 designated off-highway vehicle recreation areas.
  • Encourages affordable housing development  
  • This bill would allow for the development of more affordable housing, and would make it easier for local governments to reserve federal land, build more housing supply, and partner with affordable housing developers. 
  • Allows Clark County’s economy to grow while protecting our natural resources 
  • The bill allows Clark County to develop up to 25,000 acres for affordable housing and business growth over the next 50 years.   
  • Combats climate change
  • This text provides Clark County with the long-term planning mechanisms to implement sustainable growth, environmental mitigation, efficient water use, and clean energy development.   
  • Promotes Tribal Self-Governance and Economic Opportunities   
  • This text fosters greater tribal self-governance and helps enable traditional and cultural uses of regional tribal land through the inclusion of 45,146 acres held in trust for the Moapa Band of Paiutes and 3,156 acres for the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

Senator Cortez Masto has worked across the board to strengthen and diversify Nevada’s economy and create new jobs. She’s pushing vital legislation to help create thousands of new jobs in Las Vegas at the Apex Industrial Park and to protect the water supply for more than 1 million Nevadans through the Horizon Lateral Pipeline. She’s also fought to pass legislation to upgrade American infrastructuresupport Nevada’s manufacturing industry, and invest in Nevada’s booming clean-energy economy. She’s delivered $4 billion to combat drought in the states bordering the Colorado River and secured $450 million to fund large-scale water recycling projects in the West, including one that will provide water for more than 500,000 households in Southern Nevada and California.



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