weather icon Clear

Advocates urge Congress to provide full funding for Nevada public lands

Environmental advocates in Nevada want U.S. lawmakers to fully fund a decades-old revenue stream that has contributed over $100 million to outdoor preservation projects in the state since its inception.

By authorizing only a partial appropriation each year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an act established by Congress in 1964, the federal government is preventing more robust protection of public lands and missing an opportunity to enhance outdoor recreation, which has proven to be a major economic driver in Nevada, advocates say.

“Without the funding of the (Land and Water Conservation Fund), countless jobs and millions in revenue from the outdoor recreation industry could be at risk,” said David Quinlan, market coordinator for REI, an outdoor sports and recreation retail chain.

The fund is bankrolled by fees from offshore oil and gas leases and is authorized to deliver $900 million annually to states, but it has been fully funded only twice in its history, according to a report released Wednesday.

Instead, lawmakers have often diverted funding to projects that do not pertain to conservation, leaving more than half of the roughly $41 billion in revenue accrued over the fund’s lifetime to be spent elsewhere, according to the report. The fund received $495 million during the most recent federal budget cycle, a modest increase from the previous year.

Environmental leaders including Mauricia Baca, executive director of Get Outdoors Nevada, and Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones spoke about the need for full funding during a news conference at the REI store in Las Vegas to announce the report.

Co-produced by the Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center and the Frontier Group, the report details the fund’s contributions to the state while seeking to pressure Congress to pass pending bipartisan legislation that would permanently provide the maximum amount of funding every year.

Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nevada, is a sponsor of the LWCF Permanent Funding Act. She called the fund “so important to the conservation of public lands and waterways throughout our country,” noting that she also sponsored bipartisan legislation signed into law by President Donald Trump last year that ensured that the fund would not go away altogether.

“There’s no doubt the LWCF has bipartisan support in Congress, and I’ll keep advocating to my colleagues, leadership and this administration to give it the best shot of full and permanent funding,” she said in a statement.

The fund has provided $60 million in Nevada to assist in the protection of national parks, forests, wildlife areas and more; $45 million for state, regional and local parks; and more than $3 million for the popular Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, according to the report.

Levi Kamolnick, the state director of Environment Nevada, said that more than 15 million people annually visit the state’s outdoors, from recreation enthusiasts to casual sightseers.

“Although it’s wonderful that so many are enjoying these places, we need to remember that we can only enjoy them so long as we invest in them,” he said.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Coronavirus outbreak changing life in Beatty

For the burros, it’s business as usual in Beatty, although there has been a curtailment of handouts from passing tourists and some local eateries. But for most of the human residents, the “Stay Home Nevada” restrictions have caused major alterations in daily life.

Dispute at fast food drive-thru leads to pursuit

A verbal altercation at the Burger King drive-thru led to a sheriff’s office pursuit along southbound Highway 160 just after 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 26.

House passes $2.2T coronavirus relief package

The vote came after lawmakers were forced to scramble back to the Capitol when a lone Republican bucked GOP leaders and threatened to force a roll call vote.

RSVP shifting gears during Coronavirus outbreak

In a time when “social distancing” has become the new norm in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, businesses and organizations nationwide are retooling and changing their models in an effort to keep their operations functioning until the country returns to its former status quo.

Nevada’s primary voting to take place by mail

The coronavirus continues to expands its hold on everyday life in America and not even Nevada’s primary elections are able to escape the overrearching impact.

Nye’s 2020 state and federal primary races set

For the 2020 primary election, Nye County voters will play a part in determining who holds certain state and federal offices, including seats for the U.S House of Representatives District 4, Nevada State Senate District 19, Nevada State Assembly District 32 and Nevada Assembly District 36.

Crews rescue man from mine shaft

A man who plunged down a mine shaft last Friday evening, March 20, is recovering from his ordeal.

Nevada needs Las Vegas tourism to survive shutdown

Nevada is in for a severe economic stretch because of the governor’s mandated closure of non-essential businesses. The closure affects both small business owners and large gaming corporations.