Nevada is getting its first national monument, but it is nothing to write home about. H.R 2015 was among several natural resource measures Congress passed as it battled over whether to or not to fund the federal government through October 2015.
Not only would the ‘Las Vegas Valley Public Land and Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument Act’ gives BLM land to both Clark and Nye Counties to be used for economic development, creates additions to the Great Basin College in Pahrump, College of Southern Nevada and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas campuses, it provides for the creation of the Nellis Dunes OHV park and an expansion of Nellis Air Force Base.
H.R 2015 also has the ‘Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act,’ which designates about 26,000 acres within the Blue Lakes and Alder Creek Wilderness Study Areas as the Pine Forest Range Wilderness Area and release around 1,000 acres of the existing WSA lands. The bill would also directs the Bureau of Land Management to exchange federal lands surrounding nearby ranches for private parcels within the existing WSAs to allow for the management of public lands and make sure the economic viability of privately owned ranches.
The ‘Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act’ also contained in H.R 2015, lets Yerington partner with Nevada Copper to buy nearly 10,000 acres of BLM land surrounding the Pumpkin Hollow project site for industrial, recreational, and infrastructure purposes. It also designates over 48,000 acres in Lyon County as the Wovoka Wilderness Area.
The part of H.R. 2015, labeled ‘Restoring Storey County Act’ transfers the surface rights to about 1,745 acres of BLM land in Virginia City to Storey County to end conflicting ownership and title claims. Meanwhile, the Carlin Economic Self-Determination Act gives Carlin nearly 1,400 acres of BLM land surrounding the city for the purpose of multi-use development.
The bills, ‘Elko Motocross and Tribal Conveyance Act’ hands Elko County and the Te-moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada around 275 acres of BLM land to be used as a motocross, bicycle, off-highway vehicle, or stock car racing area. Finally, the Fernley Economic Self-Determination Act gives Fernley some 9,114 acres of BLM and Bureau of Reclamation lands within the city boundaries to used for development.
The best part of H.R. 2015 is the ‘Naval Air Station Fallon Housing and Safety Development Act.’ It transfers a 400 acre BLM parcel already within NAS Fallon to the Secretary of the Navy. The land’s earmarked for housing Navy families and would provide needed flexibility to grow the base.
However, H.R 2015 does not provide for funding – so federal agencies like the U.S. Park Service will have to find money within its existing budget to move plans for Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument from paper to reality, which probably won’t happen until the Fiscal 2016 budget arrives next October. This means Nevada’s newest monument remains closed to the public which it’s supposed to be for.