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Bill introduced to transfer land for college

WASHINGTON — A proposal to convey 285 acres near Carpenter Canyon Road and Highway 160 just outside Pahrump as a Great Basin College campus was included with a bill granting special status to thousands of acres containing prehistoric artifacts north of Las Vegas that advanced in Congress on Thursday.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a bill that would designate a Tule Springs Fossil Bed National Monument on 22,650 acres on the northern reaches of Clark County.

The action was taken by voice vote as the Senate panel met for the final time in the 2013 session. The bill advances to the Senate floor in January, while a companion bill still awaits action in the House.

Besides adding a new feature to the national park system, the sweeping bill also would redraw the federal land map in parts of the Las Vegas Valley, and also a bit in Nye County.

In Clark County, it would expand conservation areas of Red Rock Canyon by 1,530 acres; release 9,700 acres along Sunrise Mountain that had been tied up in wilderness studies; convey 645 acres of federal land to North Las Vegas for development, and turn over 660 acres to the City of Las Vegas for the same.

The measure also would deliver 1,211 acres of federal land at Nellis Dunes to Clark County to create a park for off-road vehicle users, and set aside 1,886 acres to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for a new campus in North Las Vegas.

Mike Cosgrove, who helped found a Great Basin College Pahrump Campus Advisory Board with the late Bob Swadell more than 10 years ago, said the dream was to set up a college campus on a hillside overlooking the valley. The proposed site will be near the U.S. Bureau of Land Management firefighter base southeast of Manse Road and Highway 160. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid toured the site and met with then GBC Pahrump President Bill Verbeck and community supporters. The committee already drew up plans for the campus layout.

“We had a lot of support. The tough part was getting the door open to go after that property,” Cosgrove said. “I’m excited about it now because they finally said it can happen.”

GBC Pahrump Campus Advisory Board Chairman Bill Kimball said the new college president, Mark Curtis, is supportive of the proposed new site.

“He’s got a plan to deal with the budget crisis and then to develop this land over time. It’s not going to happen next month but in a reasonable amount of time he’s got a plan to at least get a building going on that land. It’s certainly something we’ve all been interested in for a number of years,” he said.

“We’ve been working on this for quite a while. The Senate committee vote is a good step. When the project is completed there’s a very bright future for Great Basin College not only in this state but in this valley. We see them eventually as having a regular college campus here, that’s the goal anyway in the long term,” Kimball said.

He said hopefully the upcoming vote by the full Senate and in the House of Representatives will be a routine matter. In the meantime, the committee has been working with the BLM for an individual transfer of the 285 acres if the bill didn’t pass.

Great Basin College had plans to move into the old Mount Charleston Elementary School campus as a temporary measure, but those plans were scrapped due to budget constraints, Kimball said. But the expansion of Pahrump Valley High School means the college no longer has to share space with the high school at their building on Calvada Boulevard, he said.

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