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Monument Designation in Nevada Today Makes History

PHOTO: President Barack Obama designated the Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada today. It's a region of desert valleys rich in prehistory and recent history, along with wildlife.  Photo courtesy of BLM.
PHOTO: President Barack Obama designated the Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada today. It's a region of desert valleys rich in prehistory and recent history, along with wildlife. Photo courtesy of BLM.
July 10, 2015

LAS VEGAS - A new monument designation in Nevada today with President Barack Obama announcing the Basin and Range National Monument. It covers more than 700,000 acres north of Las Vegas, mainly valley regions rich in history, wildlife and recreation.

Mauricia Baca, executive director with the Outside Las Vegas Foundation, says local momentum in requesting the monument rose in recent years, and is seen as adding a new layer of diversity to the state's robust tourism industry.

"I think having this new national monument designated is a way of highlighting the natural beauty and artistic and the cultural elements that we have in Nevada that a lot of people maybe aren't as aware of," she says.

This is the largest area Obama has designated using authority under the Antiquities Act. It comes at the same time that the U.S. House approved an amendment to try to stop such designations in Western states.

Mike Matz, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' U.S. public lands program, points out that the monument was crafted with input from the local community. It focuses on the desert floors of the Garden and Coal Valleys, and Matz agrees with the characterization of the region as one of the largest ecologically-intact landscapes in the Great Basin.

"Protects the complete continuum of basin-and-range country. And that means wildlife migration corridors; that means Native American rock art," says Matz.

Rayette Martin, executive director with Nevadans for Cultural Preservation, says the region is layered with history ranging from prehistoric to mining.

"Those areas are still intact today," she says. "So you can see the occupation - arrowheads mixed with tin cans. If you want a good picture of the history of Nevada, you can go to this area and see it for yourself."

The president named three monuments: The others are the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California and the Waco Mammoth archaeological site in West Texas.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - NV