Nevada Honors 40 Years of Preserving Public Land
Friday, October 21, 2016
LAS VEGAS – Four decades ago today, in 1976, President Gerald Ford changed the way the government manages much of its land, signing a law that required the Bureau of Land Management to consider conservation and not just development.
Shaaron Netherton, executive director of the group, Friends of Nevada Wilderness, said the Federal Land Policy Management Act, also known as FLPMA, also required that the public have some say in the future of these lands in the form of resource-management plans.
"It's critical that everybody get involved and have a say in how their public lands are managed," she said. "And these plans are a great way to do that."
There are several resource-management plans in process right now, taking public input on lands near Battle Mountain, Las Vegas, Elko and Reno. The BLM controls 48 million acres in the state, making it the largest land manager by far. Nevadans still can enjoy places such as the Black Rock Desert, Red Rock Canyon and Sloan Canyon, as well as the new Basin and Range National Monument.
Ken Rait, the director of U.S. Public Lands with The Pew Charitable Trusts, said the state's wild places not only provide priceless habitat, they are a major economic driver.
"BLM lands are really the goose that lays the golden egg for rural Western economies because recreation on these lands generates a $2.8 billion annual economic output," Rait said.
Bruce Babbitt, the former Secretary of the Interior, said FLPMA sets the right priorities.
"A really important step forward was the creation of conservation lands, which is about 25 million acres within the public lands which are specifically earmarked for conservation purposes," he said.
FLPMA also required the BLM to do an inventory of all its public land, which led to the creation of 46 wilderness areas, and 60 wilderness study areas, for a total of 2-million acres in Nevada that are now protected from development.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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