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Groups Slam Hearing on Management of Public Lands

Protesters from Next Gen Climate equate Rep. Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., with Donald Trump and Cliven Bundy outside a hearing on public-lands management in North Las Vegas on Tuesday. (Next Gen Climate)
Protesters from Next Gen Climate equate Rep. Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., with Donald Trump and Cliven Bundy outside a hearing on public-lands management in North Las Vegas on Tuesday. (Next Gen Climate)
July 27, 2016

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Conservation groups protested outside a congressional field hearing held on Tuesday in North Las Vegas, slamming the event as a sham designed to promote the transfer of federal public lands to state control.

U.S. Reps. Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., and Rob Bishop, R-Utah, questioned officials from the Bureau of Land Management about ways to, in their view, make public lands "better serve" the community. Annette Magnus, executive director of the group Battle Born Progress, attended the event and didn't like what she heard.

"It was a witch hunt against the BLM, and a way for them to make a case to seize our public lands and sell them off to the highest bidder," she said. "It was just horrifying, literally. It was like they put them on trial."

Advocates from Next Gen Climate and the Nevada Conservation League also spoke out against the House field hearing. Last year, the Nevada Legislature passed a nonbinding resolution supporting the transfer of federal lands to state control. More than 80 percent of the land in Nevada is managed by the federal government.

Magnus said she thinks Nevadans should take the Cliven Bundy-inspired land-transfer movement into account when choosing their representatives this fall. Her group believes it has serious budget and environmental consequences for the state.

"This seizure mentality can come back in front of the Legislature, and it's something that voters need to think about in November," she said, "and they need to hold them accountable."

A recent poll by the Center for Western Priorities found that 50 percent of Nevadans said they're less likely to support a candidate who proposes selling off public lands to reduce the budget deficit. Details of the poll are online at westernpriorities.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV