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Public Lands Bill Impacts 9 Projects in Nevada

February 24, 2009

Las Vegas, NV – Congress will vote soon on public lands legislation affecting a wide range of projects and sites in Nevada, from flood control in Las Vegas to tribal water rights in Duck Valley.

When the Omnibus Public Lands Act comes up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, the measure will include nine projects in Nevada, says Gene Kolkman with the Rural Nevada Alliance. One provision is funding to protect Las Vegas residents from a landfill prone to leakage during flash floods.

"The Sunrise landfill is kind of infamous in Nevada. It contains a lot of hazardous materials. A lot of nasty stuff has leaked out of this landfill, so this is an important act for public safety."

Kolkman says it would be difficult to provide funding for any of the nine Nevada projects on an individual basis. He credits Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his efforts in getting them included in the measure.

The lands bill also settles water rights between the Shoshone-Pauite Tribes of Duck Valley and the State of Nevada. Kolkman says the federal government must sign off on an agreement concerning the rights, which pertain to the East Fork of the Owyhee River.

"They've reached an agreement. Now the only problem is they need a piece of legislation to ratify that agreement. If it weren't for Sen. Reid and the process of this large omnibus bill, these agreements wouldn't mean anything on the ground."

The bill also allows BLM land to be transferred to the City of Henderson for urban green spaces as part of a business center near the airport. The omnibus package adds 2 million acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System, the biggest addition in 15 years. Opponents of the measure question the cost and timing of the large package of bills.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV