Nevada Conservation Projects Receive $78 Million

LAS VEGAS, Nevada, February 21, 2008 (ENS) – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne Wednesday approved $78.6 million for conservation, restoration and recreation projects in Nevada.

During the ground breaking for a new visitor center at Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area, Kempthorne announced the funding initiatives, including $25 million for park improvements and $14.6 million to reduce the threat of wildfires around the state.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to approve this new funding for 49 separate projects under Round 8 of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act,” Kempthorne said during a ceremony attended by Nevada’s congressional delegation, including Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign and Representatives Shelley Berkley and Jon Porter.

Calico Basin, Red Rock
Canyon (Photo courtesy NDEP)

“One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job,” said Kempthorne, “is approving initiatives under this landmark legislation, because I know that we will be able to acquire and improve landscapes and wildlife habitat, expand vital public water and transportation utilities, and develop new recreational facilities that benefit all Nevadans as well as the people who visit this great state.”

The new $23 million visitor center project at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area includes construction of the center, redesign of the existing structure into an administration building, construction of a new fee booth area, and related infrastructure and site work.

Funded by a previous round of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, the project is expected to be finished in 2010.

The new funding includes:

* $25.2 million for nine projects to improve, renovate and expand parks, natural areas and trails

* $15.1 million for five capital improvement projects on federal lands, including safety improvements at Hoover Dam

* $9.6 million for 10 conservation initiatives

* $4.2 million for six projects to acquire land, including the purchase of environmentally sensitive parcels

* $1.4 million for three Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plans in Clark County, including research and science projects to help protect endangered species.

The Round 8 package includes two new funding categories – eastern Nevada landscape restoration and hazardous fuels education and wildfire prevention and two new eligible areas – White Pine County and the Great Basin National Park.

About $1.8 million was authorized for three landscape restoration projects in Eastern Nevada that will help restore wildlife, forest, and rangeland habitat.

The $14.6 million authorized for wildfire prevention will fund 14 hazardous fuels reduction projects at Lake Tahoe; in the Carson Range in Northern Nevada; and in the Spring Mountains, including the Red Rock National Conservation Area.

Recent wildfires in Nevada have caused considerable destruction of property and valuable wildlife habitat. Excess forest and brush fuels from decades of fire suppression have increased the intensity of these fires.

Funding for all the projects is authorized through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act and generated from the sale of U.S. public lands identified for disposal in the Las Vegas Valley.

Since its inception, the Act has provided revenue from federal public land sales that has generated more than $3 billion dollars.

Red Rock Canyon was designated Nevada’s first National Conservation Area in 1990. More than a million people a year visit the 195,819 acre unit, which includes a 13 mile scenic drive, 30 miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, campground, interpretive boardwalk, and a visitor center. Red Rocks is located 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.

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