Tags: Public Lands
Today, President Obama took another step forward in cementing his conservation legacy. After holding public meetings and listening to stakeholders in affected communities and around the country, the Obama Administration permanently protected three new areas of extraordinary environmental, prehistoric, historic, and scientific value. America’s three newest parks—the Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada, the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California, and the Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas—will boost the tourism economies and quality of life of nearby communities.
Located in America’s “Great Basin” region, the Garden and Coal Valleys in Nevada are premier examples of basins surrounded by mountain ranges. This remote and pristine area forms the basis of the newly established Basin and Range National Monument. This park encompasses these two valleys and their surrounding mountain ranges. This proclamation ensures the entire landscape is protected for future generations by connecting these remote mountain ranges. The new 704,000-acre park is also home to an array of wildlife including bighorn sheep, kit foxes, coyote, elk, greater sage grouse, and Great Basin rattlesnakes, along with a number of other unique plants and wildlife. The Basin and Range National Monument is the single largest landscape permanently protected by President Obama.
The area was also home to Native Americans for thousands of years, and thus represents a place of significant historic and archaeological importance. Large numbers of petroglyph sites as well as other discovered artifacts show human inhabitants dating back over 10,000 years. Other historic sites include 19th Century Euro-American settlements from silver and other ore mines.
In addition to historic and natural resources found in Basin and Range, the new designation also provides the Silver State with significant economic opportunities. Locals and tourists already flock to the area for its hiking, biking, rock climbing, and camping. Outdoor recreation generates around $1 billion annually in local and state tax revenue and 148,000 jobs in Nevada, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. We can expect those numbers to see a boost in the wake of today’s designation.
In Nevada the Basin and Range National Monument enjoys broad support. Senator Harry Reid, Congresswoman Dina Titus, and Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary Michael Connor hosted a public meeting in February regarding Nevada’s public lands and hundreds showed up to support the Basin and Range proposal and to celebrate the recently designated Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. In addition to Senator Reid and Congresswoman Titus, Basin and Range is supported by organizations as diverse as the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Nevada Chapter, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and the Nevada Archaeological Association, just to name a few.
Today, President Obama also established California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain and Texas’ Waco Mammoth as national monuments, continuing a strong trend of him protecting special places across the country where there is clear local and national support.
(Photo found on USFW Mountain-Prairie Flickr)