January 15, 2020

Cortez Masto Releases Discussion Draft of Clark County Lands Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released a discussion draft of the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act. Senator Cortez Masto has worked closely with stakeholders on a proposal for Clark County that protects Nevada’s sensitive habitats and endangered species, expands tribal trust lands, creates much-needed affordable housing, and provides opportunities for economic growth. Senator Cortez Masto will continue to hear from Nevadans as she finalizes her legislation.

“This draft legislation reflects extensive efforts to bring together Southern Nevada stakeholders to develop a proposal that prioritizes Clark County’s long-term conservation and economic development goals. As the Las Vegas Valley grows, we must start laying the ground rules for sustainable expansion and economic development, while also addressing the looming threat of climate change and protecting our natural resources and desert wildlife. I look forward to continuing my outreach with stakeholders to ensure that we present a balanced proposal. That balance will allow for future generations of Nevadans to enjoy both Southern Nevada’s economic growth and the natural wonders and wild spaces that make the Las Vegas Valley such a special place to work, live and play.”

BACKGROUND:

The development of this proposal follows a successful, bipartisan model that has worked for Nevada’s unique situation as a state with 85 percent of its land area under federal management. This discussion draft was crafted at the local level with input from conservationists, city and county officials, business owners, tribal leaders, hunting, and recreation interests – in a collaborative and inclusive process. Specifically, this legislation prioritizes:

  1. Creating more efficient land management;
  2. Allowing for responsible and sustainable growth of the Las Vegas metro area, and increase opportunities for economic development and affordable housing;
  3. Balancing economic development with vital conservation and wildlife protections.

The Discussion Draft of the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act:

  • Spurs affordable housing development
    • The discussion draft states that any lands that have been or may be acquired for public purposes by local government may also be maintained, financed and utilized for affordable housing projects.
  • Protects sensitive habitat and endangered species
    • The bill sets aside over 350,000 acres in “Special Management Areas” to protect, conserve and enhance habitat of sensitive, threatened and endangered species - such as the Desert Tortoise.  
    • The legislation also assures that conservation mitigation measures taken by the County will continue to count towards the County’s obligations in fulfilling Endangered Species Act requirements.
  • Designates new wilderness and recreation areas and expands the Red Rock National Conservation Area
    • This draft legislation designates 308,110 acres of wilderness and establishes four “Recreation Management Areas” to preserve, protect and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities in the Las Vegas Valley.
    • The legislation also expands Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a popular recreation destination, by 69,000 acres.  
  • Expands the number of acres held in trust for the Moapa Band of Paiutes
    • Over 41,000 acres will be held in trust for the Moapa Band of Paiutes to help foster greater tribal self-governance and help facilitate greater traditional and cultural uses of regional land, while also prioritizing housing, renewable energy development, conservation and economic development goals.
  • Allows conveyances of BLM-designated lands
    • The discussion draft directs the fair-market sale of specific BLM-designated land disposal areas in accordance with the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA). Proceeds of the land sales will be deposited in the SNPLMA Special Account.
    • The draft legislation also conveys lands to local governments for critical water and conservation infrastructure, utility projects and police and firefighting training facilities.
    • With Clark County’s population expected to grow to 2.85 million by 2035, this legislation will provide for sustainable and responsible growth in the Las Vegas Valley.

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