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Cortez Masto, Titus sponsor lands bill for Southern Nevada

Updated March 5, 2021 - 2:03 am

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, introduced the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act, which will protect more than 2 million acres of public land for conservation and recreation while allowing Clark County to develop affordable housing and responsibly plan for population growth projections.

This would be the largest conservation bill in Nevada history.

The entire Nevada congressional delegation supports the legislation. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) is a co-sponsor of the bill. Democratic Rep. Dina Titus introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Democrats Steven Horsford and Susie Lee and Republican Mark Amodei are co-sponsors.

“It is vital that we preserve the incredible outdoor spaces that provide immense economic, cultural and ecological value to Southern Nevada, while also allowing Las Vegas and its surrounding communities to diversify their economies and provide additional affordable housing to Nevada families,” Cortez Masto said. “My legislation will ensure Clark County can do both by laying the ground rules for sustainable expansion and affordable housing development while also addressing the threat of climate change through the largest conservation bill in Nevada history.

“As Southern Nevada rebuilds its economy after COVID-19 and anticipates adding another 820,000 residents by 2060, we must continue our important conservation and climate change mitigation work so the valley can continue to be a great place for Nevadans to live, work and recreate for centuries to come.”

Titus stressed the bill’s potential impact on quality of life in the region.

“I’m proud to introduce the largest conservation bill in Nevada’s history,” she said. “This legislation will protect more of Nevada’s wildlife and natural treasures for generations to come. People across the country are learning something we’ve long known: Southern Nevada is a desirable place to work and live. Today we are demonstrating that it is possible to accommodate Clark County’s population growth while prioritizing affordable housing and the environment.”

At the local level, Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick was enthusiastic about the bill.

“A tremendous amount of environmental research and consultation with various community partners and experts throughout the region went into the development of the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act bill language,” she said. “I commend Sen. Cortez Masto for incorporating a balanced approach, allowing for the preservation of our critical natural resources as well as understanding the need for orderly growth.”

The Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act sets aside more than 2 million acres of federal land in Clark County for habitat conservation, outdoor recreation and cultural and landscape preservation. Specifically, it includes a 51,000-acre expansion of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, full wilderness designations to more than 1.3 million acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and 337,406 additional acres of wilderness in Clark County.

This bill would allow for the development of more affordable housing and would make it easier for local governments to reserve federal land and partner with affordable housing developers. The bill allows Clark County to develop a net 30,633 acres for affordable housing and business growth over the next 50 years.

This text provides Clark County with the long-term planning mechanisms to implement sustainable growth, environmental mitigation, efficient water use and clean energy development. It also creates a grant program to support sustainability projects.

The text fosters greater tribal self-governance and helps enable traditional and cultural uses of regional tribal land through the inclusion of 41,255 acres held in trust for the Moapa Band of Paiutes.

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