County wants tortoise habitat designated off-road rec area

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Proposed Sandy Valley, Nelson Hills and Laughlin OHV areas. (Map from Clark County agenda item)

Clark County commissioners are scheduled to consider a resolution Tuesday asking Congress to designate three locations as off-highway vehicle recreation areas as part of the Clark County land bill, and a local environmental group is not amused.

“They have sprung this on the public with no warning, no consultation, and no previous discussion or public meetings. This is a terrible way to make policy,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

At least one of the proposed designations includes “many thousands of acres of the highest priority desert tortoise habitat,” Donnelly said.

The three areas, described in the county’s proposed resolution as the Laughlin, Nelson Hills and Sandy Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas,  are all on Bureau of Land Management Land, and cover a combined 110,000 acres.

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Proposed Sandy Valley, Nelson Hills and Laughlin OHV areas. (Map from Clark County agenda item)

The resolution “recognizes the value of protecting and enhancing OHV recreational opportunities,” and declares that “land available for OHV use has been reduced by wilderness designations, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land disposal, and large-scale solar development.”

The Center for Biological Diversity has earlier blasted the federal lands bill that the county has asked Congress to pass as a “wish list for privatizers” made up of “sell-offs to developers, giveaways to utility companies, and a huge exemption to the Endangered Species Act.”

“The County needs to go back to the drawing board and start with a fresh resolution for a lands bill,” Donnelly said Wednesday. “We have three new commissioners and a new political reality, we should have a new resolution, not a piecemeal doling out of gifts to aggrieved constituencies.”

County Department of Air Quality Director Marci Hensen has recommended commissioners approve the resolution, according to the commission’s Feb. 19 meeting agenda. The commission will also hear a report from the Clark County Off-Highway Vehicle Committee.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is a sad state of affairs when such disregard is given to our fragile desert environment. and its inhabitants. I know we are all guilty of harming our environment by simply living here, but we can curb the destruction. Let the off roaders use the old mine areas and lands already destroyed. I am sure safe trails could be developed.

  2. Enough of this capitulation to special recreation interests – they hold far too much influence over the lawmakers in Southern Nevada and are at odds with the County’s own goal of setting aside the Piute- Eldorado Valley for the benefit of native species and the natural
    communities in exchange for the ability to develop in the Las Vegas Valley. County Commissioners please stop undermining your own accomplishments!

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