Federal Lands Bill Introduced in Senate

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Kevin J MacDonald, Public Information Administrator
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Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021

Federal Lands Bill Introduced in Senate
Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act provides “blueprint” for a balanced approach to growth in Clark County.

The Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act (SNEDCA) was introduced in the U.S. Senate today by Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. The bill proposes protections for more than 2 million acres of sensitive lands, including beloved places like Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The bill also calls for the expansion of tribal trust lands, land set aside for more affordable housing and provides opportunities for economic growth in Clark County. The legislation was built in consultation with local, regional, and national stakeholders after years of collaboration. 

“A tremendous amount of environmental research and consultation with various community partners and experts throughout the region went into the development of the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act bill language,” said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. “I commend Sen. Cortez Masto for incorporating a balanced approach, allowing for the preservation of our critical natural resources as well as understanding the need for orderly growth.”

At its core, SNEDCA will facilitate more efficient land and water resource management, allowing for responsible and sustainable growth in Clark County that takes into account the principles outlined in our Clark County Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.

“I’m pleased to see federal legislation proposed to allow Clark County to manage our growth in an orderly manner,” said Commissioner James Gibson. “This bill provides us with the necessary tools to ensure we are meeting the demands of our citizens, including the need for affordable housing, small business growth, and accessible outdoor recreation areas for our residents and visitors while maintaining our responsibility to preserve our wildlife habitats and endangered species.”

With Clark County’s population expected to grow to nearly 3 million people by 2035, County officials were spurred into action to manage that growth in a manner that also protects our public lands, including places for recreation like Red Rock National Conservation Area, but providing permanent protection for regional wildlife habitats and endangered species. The result was and will continue to be a collaborative stakeholder-driven process that includes local governments, conservation and environmental organizations, business and industry representatives, indigenous communities and residents to develop shepherd this critical legislation through so that we can have a blueprint for Clark County’s future.

“Clark County remains one of the fastest-growing communities in the United States,” said Marci Henson, director of Clark County’s Department of Environment and Sustainability and the County’s lead on SNEDCA. “We are proud to have worked closely with Senator Cortez Masto’s office and consulted with multiple stakeholders and community representatives for years while drafting this bill’s provisions. We believe it offers the balance our county needs to meet the challenges and opportunities that face us. This legislation provides us a blueprint for our future while protecting the lands and resources that make up the fabric of Nevada.”

“We are at a crossroads in Southern Nevada where we must make smart decisions about the kind of community we want to live in and the values we stand for. I believe this legislation gives us the tools to act responsibly, taking into consideration the effects of climate change, the charge we have to protect our public lands, as well as the duty we have to ensure all of our citizens have access to economic opportunities by way of job growth and affordable housing,” said Commissioner Justin Jones. “This legislation provides a blueprint to preserve our natural resources as habitat for plant life and wildlife. It also provides a blueprint for people to continue enjoying our desert for its undisturbed beauty.”


About the Department of Environment and Sustainability
The Department of Environment and Sustainability is the air pollution control agency, regional Endangered Species Act compliance program, and sustainability office for all of Clark County, Nevada. Established as the Department of Air Quality by the Clark County Commission in 2001, it was renamed in 2020 and is comprised of three divisions: Air Quality, Desert Conservation Program and Office of Sustainability. Through these three divisions, DES is ensuring the air we share meets healthful, regulatory standards, administering the County's Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan and addressing climate change through the All-In Clark County initiative.

Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability.  With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 11th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to 2.4 million citizens and 45.6 million visitors a year (2019). Included are the nation’s 9th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to 1.1 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.