NV Honors National Monument, with Hopes for Another
Monday, August 8, 2022
Over the weekend, Nevada's Lehman Caves celebrated its 100th anniversary as a national monument. Supporters behind a proposal to add another monument in the state hope the observations serve as a reminder of the need to preserve public lands.
The proposed monument - south of Las Vegas - would be called Avi Kwa Ame, which is the Mojave Tribe's term for Spirit Mountain.
Paul Selberg, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League, said establishing these 450,000 acres as a federally protected site would balance a range of goals amid the climate crisis.
"Heeding the call and serving as a prime, shining example of how future investments can protect our lands," said Selberg, "respect Indigenous efforts and also support economic growth."
The land is considered sacred to a dozen Indigenous tribes. Supporters say preserving it also would benefit the state's economy through a variety of recreational activities, such as hiking.
The coalition backing the plan is hoping for either Congress or the Biden administration to take action on the idea. Members held talks with federal officials in recent days.
Taylor Patterson, executive director of the Native Voters Alliance, said the urgency behind this effort is due in part to shield the land from proposed renewable energy projects.
"It's important to know nobody in this process is against renewable energy," said Patterson. "We all want to see renewable energy goals met. But there is an appropriate place, for wind and for solar."
She said these lands are not that place.
Opponents have noted the area already has some federal protections. However, a national monument designation would preclude any future commercial development.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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