LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — After controversy surrounding two Utah national monuments during President Donald Trump’s administration, the newly proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Southern Nevada faces much less opposition — and no organized opposition.
Still, proponents would like President Joe Biden to approve the monument sooner than later.
A “ticking clock” has been placed at the top of a website devoted to public lands in the West. Avi Kwa Ame is a sprawling 445,000-acre area in Southern Nevada that includes Spirit Mountain and other lands important to Indigenous nations across the West.
Deputy Director Aaron Weiss of the Center for Western Priorities, a public lands advocacy group, said Thursday, “Part of being a good friend is holding your friends accountable as much as you hold your opponents accountable.
“So that clock is just a reminder to President Biden that he made this pledge, and we look forward to him making good on that promise as soon as possible,” Weiss said.
After a November meeting of Southern Nevada stakeholders, Biden pledeged his support.
Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante offer “no parallels” to Avi Kwa Ame (pronounced: ah-VICK-wa-may), Weiss said. He said those national monuments have broad support from voters in Utah, despite the arguments made by a “small sliver, albeit a loud one.”
Trump scaled back both monuments, but President Joe Biden has restored the lands since.
What they do have in common: Bears Ears and Avi Kwa Me are both tribally led initiatives to preserve land. Weiss applauded the Biden administration’s work with tribal governments on the national monuments.
“The back-and-forth that happened with Bears Ears, that was the first time that had ever happened at that scale, to have a following president come in and to try to eviscerate a previous president’s national monument proclamation.” Weiss said he doesn’t foresee another round of national monuments becoming “political footballs.”