Clark County has asked the federal government to allow commercial and residential development on public land. Clark County commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday, and are now urging Nevada’s delegation to move forward with legislation.
Some 44,000 acres are at stake, with the majority of the land located along I-15, between the southern edge of the valley, and Jean. Clark County promises a balance between economic development, conservation, and recreational access.
About 100 people lined up to speak before commissioners Tuesday.
The resolution is only the beginning. Congress still will have to draft a bill and get approval.
But the proposal is facing strong opposition from the off-road community, while environmentalists are split on the future plans, which includes new conservation areas.
The Center for Biological Diversity has come out against the plans, expressing concerns over the desert tortoises. But not all conservationists disapprove of the proposal.
Meanwhile, the off-roading community says commercial and housing development will impact one of the most significant sporting events in southern Nevada that brings in millions of dollars to the local economy.
The proposed development in the southern part of the valley will take up about half of the race course for the Mint 400.
“Very disappointed,” said Josh Martelli, the co-owner & CEO of the Mint 400. “There were a lot of questions that were raised about this issue just from the dissemination of information and inclusion of, or lack of inclusion of all the various stakeholders in this issue.”
“We’re excited about the opportunity to work with our federal delegation to make sure that the final product does, in fact, protect lands here in southern Nevada; protects recreation, protects habitat.,” said Andy Maggi, the executive director of the Nevada Conservation League.
Aside from the proposed development in the south valley, the 44,000 acres include pockets of federal land in the outer edges of the north, west, and east valley.
The plans will also designate more than 370,000 acres as wilderness or critical habitat for the protected species, as well as a 41,000 acres tribal expansion.
Commissioners did mention they want to be part of the process once Nevada’s delegation begins drafting a bill. They also said they want to make sure the public is also included.
It’s unclear how long it will take to pass legislation, but by some Clark County estimations, it can take at least two years.