Oh, Harry, you’ve done it again.
Sen. Harry Reid has once again given the middle finger salute to his constituents, introducing a bill to close off from productive use 805,100 acres of federal land he is calling the “Garden Valley Withdrawal Area” with Senate Bill 2820.
It has no co-sponsors and has in the past been opposed by local officials.
Ed Higbee, chairman of the Lincoln County Commission, told the Las Vegas newspaper it’s hard to swallow restricting development on so much county land. “That’s a huge view-shed,” Higbee said. “We don’t want that to become a national conservation area.”
Reid made a similar proposal in 2010, and that too was met with opposition.
Nye County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman, whose vast district includes the Garden Valley area, told the paper she said she would want to hear from neighboring residents before taking a position on the bill.
Though Reid’s brief bill draft makes no mention of it, nestled in the middle of this vast swath of barren land is “artist” Michael Heizer’s 30-acre earthen and concrete project called “City,” started in 1970 and was scheduled for completion in 2010, according to the artist’s website. The project is expected to cost $25 million.
“Citing safety and artistic reasons, Heizer has disallowed all visitation of the work in progress,” the website says. “Heizer owns all of the property around the work and has marked the access to the site with a sign that prohibits trespassing. The Dia Foundation has indicated that once the work is completed, it will be open it to the public.”
It is unclear what impact withdrawal of the surrounding land from development might have on access to the “art” project.
Artist Heizer told The New York Times in 2005, “You just don’t get it, do you? This is a czarist nation, a fascist state. They control everything. They tap my phone. They’ll do anything to stop me. We’re the front lines, man, fleas fighting a giant.”
This was the same article in which Heizer railed against the invasion of the area by railroads, wells electric power lines while ”sniveling toady” politicians do nothing.
The Review-Journal story says land use “restrictions would not affect current valid land use such as grazing, but it would forbid the Bureau of Land Management from selling any land or granting permits for oil or mineral prospecting. Activities for new geothermal, solar or wind energy development also would be restricted.” The bill draft specifies geothermal, but makes no mention of solar or wind, which are among Reid’s favorite toys to fund with your money.
At one time, the Department of Energy proposed building a railroad line across the area to haul nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, a project opposed by Reid.