Give Nevadans a voice in how our land is used

Nevada’s two remaining Republican representatives in Washington have joined forces to introduce legislation that would prevent future presidents from usurping Nevada land without first consulting Nevadans.

This past week Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei, who represents Northern Nevada, introduced the Nevada Land Sovereignty Act of 2017 (H.R. 243, S. 22). If passed, it would block executive fiats designating or expanding national monuments without congressional approval or local support, they say.

In just more than a year President Obama has unilaterally declared off-limits to productive economic uses 1 million acres of Nevada land — first the 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument in Lincoln and Nye counties and in recent weeks the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in rural northeast Clark County. Basin and Range alone is larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Obama used the authority granted him by the Antiquities Act of 1906. Though more recent legislation has required environmental reviews and public comments, none was undertaken.

The legislation introduced by Heller and Amodei is terse and to the point. It basically piggybacks onto current law that reads: “No extension or establishment of national monuments in Wyoming may be undertaken except by express authorization of Congress.” The current proposal would amend this by simply adding the phrase “or Nevada” after the word Wyoming.

“Whether you agree with our proposals or not, I have always supported a public and transparent process which includes input from interest groups, local communities, and elected representatives,” Congressman Amodei was quoted as saying in a press release announcing the legislation. “Unlike all of our Nevada lands bills that allow stakeholders an opportunity to voice their concerns and ultimately reach a consensus agreement that achieves bipartisan support, the Obama administration has repeatedly bypassed Congress and local input. I continue to be amazed by the fact that some people hug unilateral, non-transparent monument designations, while at the same time, protesting vehemently over the introduction and public discussion of congressional lands bills proposals. In contrast to the last eight years of this administration’s one-sided approach on major land management decisions in Nevada, our bill simply ensures local stakeholders have a seat at the table going forward.”

Sen. Heller was quoted in that press release as saying, “Late last month, without even having a say in the matter, Nevadans witnessed the executive branch quickly lock up hundreds of thousands of acres of local, public land with an effortless stroke of the pen. No matter which political party is occupying the White House, these types of unilateral federal land grabs by the executive branch should not be allowed. Public input and local support remain critical to the decision-making process of federal land designations. This legislation prevents actions like last month’s Gold Butte land grab from occurring without input from Congress and local officials. I’d like to thank Congressman Amodei for his partnership on this bill.”

One hurdle for this proposal may be that all four of Nevada’s current Democratic members of the Washington delegation expressed support for Obama’s Gold Butte land grab.

Whatever one’s opinion on the end result, wouldn’t it be preferable for Nevadans to have a say in how the land here is used, instead of having it crammed down our throats? — TM


  1. Alexis Dowding says:

    The Friends of Gold Butte group and the Nevada Wilderness Coalition sponsored a Protection/Conservation Poll for the Gold Butte area as early as mid-2008 (please see the Las Vegas Review-Journal article by
    Keith Rogers published on Friday, June 6, 2008 and archived here: If you simply search the internet for Heller and “Gold Butte” you will see many news articles regarding Senator Heller’s opposition to designating Gold Butte a National Monument (dating back to at least 2011). When looking up Amodei and “Gold Butte,” I can find news in 2011 ( regarding both Heller and Amodei’s opposition to any designation for Gold Butte. For these congressmen to introduce a bill on the premise that they were not consulted or aware of the local and state efforts is easily proven false and a disservice to all the years of work at the state and local levels to protect Gold Butte. The congressmen opposed the federal protection and may not like the designation, but they certainly knew all about the efforts.

    As far as a local say/input/opinion, 71% of local Nevadans supported the designation according to this 2016 poll:

    I have been wintering in Mesquite, NV for three years and have been aware of local efforts and support for the protection of Gold Butte since shortly after arriving here.

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