Federal lands should stay in federal hands

Las Vegas Review Journal – by Chris Giunchigliani and Kelvin Atkinson

Management of public lands has made headlines since the attempted gather of Cliven Bundy’s cattle a year and a half ago. For more than 20 years, his cows have been grazing illegally on more than 300,000 acres of public land owned by all Americans. That land includes Gold Butte, a beautiful area of the desert between Lake Mead and Mesquite.

Bundy, who has a 160-acre ranch near the area, has said, “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” He now owes more to the government than all other ranchers in America combined.  

Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison and the Nevada Chapter of the National Association of Counties held the first-ever Summit on Public Lands on Sept. 29 at Aliante. Instead of running away from this deranged ideology, elected officials including Rep. Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., have come to Bundy’s defense and introduced legislation that would seize millions of acres of our land and put it in the hands of state and local governments to sell off for private development. If passed, it would jeopardize access for Nevadans and others to areas that we all love.

As representatives of county and state government, we can attest to the fact that we simply do not have the funds to provide law enforcement, trail maintenance and wildfire protection that currently is provided for us on these lands by the federal government. Additionally, Nevada counties receive millions of dollars a year in Payment in Lieu of Taxes payments. These are basically property taxes paid by the federal government that cover critical services for rural communities and would disappear under this land-grab proposal.

Proponents of this plan believe we will be able to fill the budget hole for land management by selling the land to the highest bidder, or by allowing unregulated development. But communities around Nevada already have tens of thousands of acres they cannot sell right now. Flooding the market with more land will only drive prices down further and reduce revenues from sales.

Instead of a top-down approach to seize millions of acres, our local governments have demonstrated a better way to acquire land. A great example of this is the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. This area was once slated for development, but after fossil lovers from around the world came to its defense, we looked at this area from the ground up and selected which areas deserved protection and which areas would be better for development. We can take this same approach to other parts of the state.

We need to protect these areas to protect our economy. We need to protect our public lands to protect our health. We need to protect Nevada to safeguard our special places for future generations to enjoy. We hope that you will join us in rejecting the effort to seize our Nevada lands.

— Chris Giunchigliani, a Democrat, represents District E on the Clark County Commission. Kelvin Atkinson, a Democrat, represents District 4 in the Nevada Senate.


4 thoughts on “Federal lands should stay in federal hands

  1. Back in the mid 1970’s, NV, CA, AZ, CO: all want to take over all federal land administrated by the BLM, sagebrush reb. It never happened, gov of all states stated that we must learn to manage all the land we have now, before we take on more.

  2. “Federal lands should stay in federal hands”

    As opposed to what… Chinese hands?

    It doesn’t belong to the so-called ‘government’ in the first place.

  3. “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”

    Someone, show the man what he has won!
    Its a beautiful…CHICKEN DINNER!

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.