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PNS Daily News - August 22, 2017 


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National Monument Advocates: Zinke's "Snub" Muted Local Voices

Protections for Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments could be at risk. (Friends of Gold Butte)
Protections for Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments could be at risk. (Friends of Gold Butte)
August 1, 2017

LAS VEGAS – Some local advocates say they are more engaged than ever after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's so-called "snub."

Zinke was slated to meet with elected officials, business leaders and tribes Monday as part of his review of Basin and Range and Gold Butte National Monuments. But the meeting was scrubbed when his trip to Nevada was cut short due to a cabinet meeting in D.C.

District 1 Congresswoman Dina Titus says Zinke missed the opportunity to hear from folks on the ground about what's really at stake should the monuments be rescinded.

"We've got studies that show how they area's been degraded and trashed," she says. "We've got information about the geology, information about the economic impact. Certainly, the Paiute Tribe can talk about what a sacred place it is for them. Those are the things he needed to hear."

The initial national-monument designations came after years of collaboration between the Department of the Interior, city councils, utilities, tribes and communities, and Titus and others are worried the current review is not getting the same attention.

Gold Butte's national-monument status means that Clark County meets its requirements under the Multi Species Habitat Conservation Plan.

County commissioner Chris Giunchigliani says without protection, development possibilities could be stalled or stopped, impacting the livelihood of a key species.

"In 1991, we created the funding procedure for protecting the desert tortoise," Giunchigliani notes. "This will undo that. We're not trying to restrict people; we're just trying to make sure that we protect the habitat, we protect what the indigenous people have to say, and then still find a safe way for people to be able to view the petroglyphs and things along those lines."

Terri Rylander with Friends of Gold Butte adds that advocates will continue to fight for the protection of Basin and Range and Gold Butte.

"If that's through the millions of comments that were submitted through the review process or through any other kind of conversation, we welcome that with Secretary Zinke," she says. "We're here, we need to be heard. This is Nevada's land and America's land, and he represents America."

Zinke's recommendations for the review of 27 national monuments are due by the end of the month.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NV