The Interior Department said Friday it will invest $1.6 billion this year, including several million dollars in Nevada, to fund improvement projects in national parks, wildlife refuges and Bureau of Indian Education schools, creating more than 19,000 jobs nationally in the process.
According to a statement issued by the department, the 165 deferred maintenance projects will improve recreation facilities, historic structures, roads, trails, and bridges while adding $2 billion to the country’s gross domestic product this year.
Funding for projects was allocated last year through the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan conservation bill.
“Through the Great American Outdoors Act, we are investing in the American people, and in the future of our public lands and sacred spaces,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement on Friday.
“We must address the long-delayed maintenance needs of the nation’s aging buildings and infrastructure. Importantly, this funding also honors our commitment to Tribal communities by investing in Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools for current and future generations,” Haaland added.
One of several investment projects in Nevada will be $5 million to modernize infrastructure at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and improve access to drinking water for visitors, concessioners and employees.
Due to declining reservoir levels on Lake Mead, the project will relocate the Callville Bay water intake barge and also improve service roads to the new site.
Each time the lake level drops about 10-20 feet the park needs to move the intake barge, at a cost ranging from $200,000 to $400,000.
Currently, the Callville Bay intake barge can reliably provide drinking water to a Lake Mead elevation of 1,075 feet, but surface elevation for the lake is at risk of dipping below 1,075 feet in the near future, according to forecasts by the Bureau of Reclamation Operation Plan for Colorado River System Reservoirs.
If water levels drop below that level, the barge will become landlocked, moving it will be more expensive.
Nevada would also see an investment of nearly $3 million to the wildfire-prone Winnemucca District in Northern Nevada to replace a dilapidated Fire Station Quarters in McDermitt with a new Fire Station Quarters in Orovada.
Another project related to wildland fire that will be funded in Nevada is a $900,000 investment to the Nevada Telecommunications Network to repair radio infrastructure to provide a reliable communication system for fire suppression, law enforcement, and emergency response.
Sand Mountain, a popular OHV recreation area in Churchill County, would see a $1.7 million investment to repair the road to the recreation area and eliminate safety hazards. Indian Creek Recreation area, on the east slope of the Sierra Mountains, would get $499,000 to eliminate deferred maintenance, public safety hazards, and environmental concerns.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, would receive $121,000 to replace a septic tank in order to accommodate a dramatic increase in visitation to the Monument.
The historic mining town of Eureka was also awarded $360,000 to tear down four buildings that are no longer used and pose safety hazards to the public.
The Great American Outdoors Act also permanently allocated $900 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps the federal government acquire new land for parks and trails and works to protect sensitive forest and endangered species habitat.