Editorial: Give Nevadans a voice in land use

Gold Butte (R-J photo)

Gold Butte (R-J photo)

Nevada’s two remaining Republican representatives in Washington have joined forces to introduce legislation that would prevent future presidents from usurping Nevada land without first consulting Nevadans.

This past week Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei, who represents Northern Nevada, introduced the Nevada Land Sovereignty Act of 2017 (H.R. 243, S. 22). If passed, it would block executive fiats designating or expanding national monuments without congressional approval or local support, they say.

In just more than a year President Obama has unilaterally declared off-limits to productive economic uses 1 million acres of Nevada land — first the 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument in Lincoln and Nye counties and in recent weeks the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in rural northeast Clark County. Basin and Range alone is larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Obama used the authority granted him by the Antiquities Act of 1906. Though more recent legislation has required environmental reviews and public comments, none was undertaken.

The legislation introduced by Heller and Amodei is terse and to the point. It basically piggybacks onto current law that reads: “No extension or establishment of national monuments in Wyoming may be undertaken except by express authorization of Congress.” The current proposal would amend this by simply adding the phrase “or Nevada” after the word Wyoming.

“Whether you agree with our proposals or not, I have always supported a public and transparent process which includes input from interest groups, local communities, and elected representatives,” Congressman Amodei was quoted as saying in a press release announcing the legislation. “Unlike all of our Nevada lands bills that allow stakeholders an opportunity to voice their concerns and ultimately reach a consensus agreement that achieves bipartisan support, the Obama administration has repeatedly bypassed Congress and local input. I continue to be amazed by the fact that some people hug unilateral, non-transparent monument designations, while at the same time, protesting vehemently over the introduction and public discussion of congressional lands bills proposals. In contrast to the last eight years of this administration’s one-sided approach on major land management decisions in Nevada, our bill simply ensures local stakeholders have a seat at the table going forward.”

Sen. Heller was quoted in that press release as saying, “Late last month, without even having a say in the matter, Nevadans witnessed the executive branch quickly lock up hundreds of thousands of acres of local, public land with an effortless stroke of the pen. No matter which political party is occupying the White House, these types of unilateral federal land grabs by the executive branch should not be allowed. Public input and local support remain critical to the decision-making process of federal land designations. This legislation prevents actions like last month’s Gold Butte land grab from occurring without input from Congress and local officials. I’d like to thank Congressman Amodei for his partnership on this bill.”

One hurdle for this proposal may be that all four of Nevada’s current Democratic members of the Washington delegation expressed support for Obama’s Gold Butte land grab.

Whatever one’s opinion on the end result, wouldn’t it be preferable for Nevadans to have a say in how the land here is used, instead of having it crammed down our throats?

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

8 comments on “Editorial: Give Nevadans a voice in land use

  1. deleted says:

    Nevada’s land?

    Exactly what does that mean cause if the reference is to federal land, owned by the federal government within the state of Nevada, to me this is no more “Nevada’s land” than all of the Venetian is properly referred to as “Patricks land” because I own property abutting it.

    And I don’t remember Sheldon coming me, as a stakeholder in that land, the last time he decided to add a new moat or whatever to Patricks land.

    Maybe I ought to speak to Amodi, if he’d answer his phone when I called.

  2. Steve says:

    Patrick’s a billionaire strip land owner who takes time to come here and troll.

    Who would’a thought?


  3. Barbara says:

    “Either you will control your government, or government will control you.” Ronald Reagan.

    The executive branch has extended its power and reach into areas never imagined by the Founders. Land grabs are only one area. I applaud Congressman Amodei and Senator Heller’s efforts to return control over the land within our state to its residents.

    However, why not extend this effort to restore the people’s sovereignty in all areas by clearly restricting the federal government to those enumerated powers delegated to it by the people. This could be accomplished by amending Article 1, Section 8 to clarify the authority of Congress:

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes, but shall exercise no authority to regulate any activity which occurs wholly within one State without the approval of 3/4 of the State Legislators of said State.

  4. deleted says:

    Ronald Reagan was an idiot. And most of what he said and did, was because of his Alzheimer’s.

  5. Steve says:

    The insult response says more about its originator the comment.

  6. Jake says:

    Mr. Mitchell has made a couple of references to the newly protected land having some sort of “productive economic use.” This is puzzling. The land is currently producing nothing, aside from a portion being used by Mr. Bundy to graze his cattle (a situation famously not producing revenue). If there’s some future use of the land, such as strip mining resources, or adding to urban sprawl, preventing such vandalism is exactly what protection statutes intend.

  7. Yes, all of the above.

  8. […] Amodei said in January before Trump’s inauguration, “I continue to be amazed by the fact that some people hug […]

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