Though this bill has nothing to do with the bright lights of Las Vegas, the massive National Landscape Conservation System bill has plenty to do with protecting our collective natural heritage for future generations to experience.
American Indian etchings on the sandstone walls, yucca plants, ancient Joshua trees and more are the beneficiaries when Congress passed this bill that makes Nevada’s three conservation areas, along with its 45 wilderness areas, 62 wilderness study areas, and 26 million acres of public lands in a dozen Western states, all protected in a permanent system.
The newly enacted bill places natural lands importance on par with the National Park Services system and the National Wildlife Refuge system. People will soon know what to expect when they visit these areas.
Although the landscape system was established administratively by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and was kept intact by the Bush administration, it really didn’t have the necessary “teeth” since it didn’t guarantee Congress would make conservation an ongoing priority and fund protection efforts including artifact looting, vandalism, invasive plant and wildlife habitat damage from off-road vehicles and other intrusions, and cultural site and natural resource developments.
The lands bill passed the Senate in January. The House then tried to pass it last week by a two-thirds majority but fell two votes short. The Senate then reworked the bill last week and sent it back for reconsideration that passed by a simple majority of the House.
Red Rock Canyon, located about 30 minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip, is one of the crown jewels of the National Landscape Conservation System. The bill gives the 26-million-acre system in the Western states permanent congressional authorization to ensure its pristine features would remain intact for future generations.