Public Hearings This Week on Future of BLM Lands in Southern NV
MESQUITE, Nev. – The future of special places on public land such as the El Dorado, South McCullough and Muddy Mountains is up for discussion at a series of public meetings with federal officials this week and next.
The Bureau of Land Management is holding a forum Wednesday night in Mesquite, one Thursday in Las Vegas and three next Tuesday through Thursday in Pahrump, Henderson and Searchlight.
Jose Witt, southern Nevada director for Friends of the Nevada Wilderness, says he's concerned about what kinds of uses BLM might green light on 3.1 million acres of public land.
"Rapid off-road vehicle use, where we're talking about multiple roads,” he states. “Unmonitored OHV use would be a concern. Possible mineral extraction, potential oil and gas exploration would be something to be concerned about."
At issue is whether so-called "lands with wilderness characteristics" will be conserved, or developed, in the upcoming Resource Management Plan.
Many are adjacent to existing federal wilderness areas, which are established by Congress.
People also can submit written public comment on the BLM website until Feb. 2.
Matt Skroch, an officer in the U.S. Public Lands Conservation Program with The Pew Charitable Trusts, says in the worst case scenario, the federal government could decide not to protect any of the lands identified as having wilderness characteristics.
"The BLM needs to hear from people regarding sensitive areas that have high values for scenery, for wildlife, for archaeological resources, so that they can make the right decisions about what areas should be protected," he stresses.
Skroch notes that the placement of large-scale renewable energy projects needs to be done with careful consideration of the environment, particularly the habitat for the desert tortoise.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.