U.S. Vice President  Harris Learns Role of  Wetlands Park in Local Sustainability Efforts

Clark County Wetlands Park and the unique role it plays in protecting the Las Vegas Wash was highlighted today during Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Clark County Parks and Recreation Department Director Daniel Hernandez and Elizabeth Bickmore, program administrator of Clark County Wetlands Park, took part in the vice president’s tour and briefing at the lake with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Southern Nevada Water Authority, National Park Service officials and members of Nevada’s Congressional delegation. County staff gave the vice president an overview of the All-In-Clark County initiative to address sustainability and climate change and highlighted Clark County’s work with local, state and federal partners to preserve the wetlands as an example of efforts to build a resilient and sustainable future.

“Clark County is proud of the work we have done to preserve our wetlands habitat in the Las Vegas Wash and the incredible facilities we have built to ensure the sustainability of our precious desert environment for future generations,” said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Chair of the Southern Nevada Water Authority Board of Directors. “We are thrilled to welcome Vice President Harris to our community and appreciate the important work our staff at Clark County Wetlands Park do with our many partners to protect and preserve the Las Vegas Wash and its ecosystem.”

First envisioned in the 1990s, Clark County formally created Clark County Wetlands Park in 2001 during a building boom to preserve natural wetlands and habitat area. Clark County Wetlands Park is shaped by urban runoff, shallow groundwater, storm water, and reclaimed water that flows through the Las Vegas Wash and into Lake Mead. Spanning 2,900 acres, Clark County Wetlands Park is one of the largest urban wetlands in the Southwest and serves as a popular destination for hikers and bird watchers. The park includes the 45,000-square-foot Wetland Park Nature Center complex that opened in 2013 with an exhibit gallery, auditorium and nature store. The Las Vegas Wash, which encompasses a 1,600-square mile watershed the size of Rhode Island, was originally active only with rain, but with the introduction of treated wastewater in the 1950s it became a perennial stream connecting the valley to Lake Mead as an urban river with wetland habitats.

“Clark County Wetlands Park is a true oasis within the Las Vegas Valley and it’s an important part of our natural history,” said Clark County Commission Vice Chairman Jim Gibson, a member of the Southern Nevada Water Authority Board of Directors. “It’s exciting that this unique area and the facilities Clark County has built to promote education and environmental sustainability are being highlighted by a visit from the Vice President.”                                                         

Wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Their biodiversity is comparable to rainforests and coral reefs, providing rich habitat for a wide variety of species. They absorb floodwaters, reduce erosion, replenish groundwater and improve water quality by filtering pollutants. The weirs built in Clark County Wetlands Park along with the natural habitat slow and clean the water flows before entering Lake Mead.

The Clark County Wetlands Park Nature Center is located at 7050 Wetlands Park Lane, about 1 mile east of Boulder Highway and Tropicana Avenue. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The phone number is (702) 455-7522.  The complex is surrounded by the 210-acre Nature Preserve that contains 6 miles of hiking trails, wetland and stream wildlife habitat and an outdoor classroom for scientific studies and educational programs for all ages. The building, built on concrete piers to protect it from flooding, was constructed to gold-level Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Eco-friendly construction elements include insulation made partly from shredded blue jeans, maximized use of natural lighting, and bamboo flooring harvested from sustainable forests.

The Exhibit Gallery features colorful and interactive exhibits for visitors to learn about local wildlife and how water flows in the Las Vegas Valley. The space includes a model of the Las Vegas Wash, dioramas with life-sized native wildlife and vegetation, and a solar-powered exhibit with motorized insects. Visitors can guess the smell of plants and animals at one exhibit and learn how to distinguish among different types of animal droppings at another. Other activities teach visitors how to create food chains, read animal tracks and match eggs with the animals that laid them. The Critter Crawl area features a 12-foot snake, ride-on dragon fly and a large coot nest for children to climb into. 

There are about 34.5 miles of trails throughout the Clark County Wetlands Park including 28.5 miles of multi-use trails and 6 miles of intersecting pedestrian-only trials trails within the Nature Preserve. Outdoor hours in the park are dawn to dusk daily. Located along the North American Flyway, more than 300 species of birds and 70 species of mammals and reptiles have been identified in the park including beavers, coyotes, bobcats, and snakes. The park offers a wide variety of nature themed interpretive programs to people of all ages including walks led by Certified Interpretive Guides, art exhibits and workshops, children’s science and craft activities, and group and individual volunteer opportunities.

It is recommended that visitors wear sunscreen, hats with a wide brim, sturdy closed-toe shoes, and bring plenty of water when walking the trails. The ponds and streams in the Nature Preserve contain reclaimed water and are not intended for human contact. Swimming, wading and fishing are not allowed. Information about the Wetlands Park’s programs and activities is available on its website pages at www.ccwetlandspark.com. You can also follow Clark County Wetlands Park on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @CCWetlandsPark.

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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 2.3 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 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.