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Valuable Wild Precedent for 2007 in Nevada

December 26, 2006

Las Vegas, NV - Action by Congress in late 2006 not only protected half a million acres of Nevada wilderness, but it also set an important conservation precedent for 2007 and beyond.

It went down to the final hours for Congress to act, but earlier this month, lawmakers designated over 558,000 acres in White Pine County as a Wilderness Study Area. University of Nevada, Las Vegas geology student Peter Druschke explains that earlier plans would have carved the South Eagan Wilderness Study Area into two smaller parcels.

"This kind of sets a precedent that some of these larger 100,000 or 200,000-acre Wilderness Study Areas remain intact as a single unit, closing the door to future road-building activities."

Since there are no existing roads in the South Eagan portion, Ely resident Neil Frakes thinks it made sense to close off that kind of development by including it in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

"It's going to be a great area for back-country skiing, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding and other non-motorized recreation, which is becoming increasingly popular here, and I think there are still plenty of other areas for motorized recreation to occur."

Outdoor enthusiast Neil Marchington isn't concerned with all the technicalities, he's just looking forward to getting out there and using these hundreds of thousands of acres of newly protected Nevada.

"To me, it means a lot of the areas that I visit frequently are protected. I'm an avid backpacker, hiker and caver and this area is really unique for visiting a lot of those types of resources."

Conservationists credit Senators Ensign and Reid with playing a major role in getting the Wilderness designation. It's the sixth wilderness-related bill passed by the State Legislature.

Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NV