LAS VEGAS — From September 18 to September 25, elected officials, local environmental leaders, activists, and organizations hosted week-long celebratory activities in honor of National and Nevada Public Lands Day. The 6th Annual Nevada Public Lands Day celebration consisted of educational webinars, a community park clean up, and a guided hike. Public Lands Day is meant to recognize the historical, scenic, economic, and other values of Nevada’s public lands while encouraging Nevadans to participate in volunteer stewardship activities that help conserve the unique public lands that are only found in our state.
Virtual webinars featured speakers who bear special connections to Nevada’s public lands and shared their stories of appreciation. During a virtual conversation held on Monday, the Honor Avi Kwa Ame coalition hosted a virtual conversation with the southern Nevada community and three stakeholders with deep ties to Avi Kwa Ame (Ah-VEE kwa-meh, a.k.a. Spirit Mountain) landscape. On Thursday, a virtual discussion hosted by Battle Born Progress highlighted public lands and conservation priorities with Alan O’Neill, the Former Superintendent of the Lake Mead Recreational Area, Russell Kuhlman, the Executive Director of the Nevada Wildlife Federation, Dwight George from Native Voters Alliance of Nevada, and Angie Bulletts the Southern Nevada District Manager for the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada.
To officially mark Nevada Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 24, environmental leaders, activists, and organizations celebrated with a community park clean up. Participants from all over the valley came to Desert Breeze Park and collectively picked up 700 pounds of trash during the event. The day ended with a press conference featuring Congresswoman Dina Titus, Congresswoman Susie Lee, Assemblywoman Brittney Miller, Commissioner Justin Jones, and Commissioner Michael Naft, alongside local conservation groups to call for greater protections of federal lands. Governor Steve Sisolak issued a proclamation declaring it Public Lands Day. In addition, Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones issued a similar proclamation on behalf of Clark County.
To complete the week-long celebration, on Sunday, September 25, activists and advocates led a hike to Hiko Springs, situated in the area of the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. During the hike, participants explored the Southern corner of the monument site to see Indigenous petroglyphs, local trees, and even local wildlife, including a rattlesnake. Hikers called for the designation of Avi Kwa Ame as a National Monument, for its historical, cultural, and spiritual significance to Indigenous communities, and the biological necessity of protecting the plants and wildlife on the land as well.
With record-breaking extreme heat waves, massive wildfires ravaging northern Nevada, and a federally declared water shortage for Lake Mead in the South, the conservation community brought together state and federal leaders to stress the urgency of immediate climate action, and thank Nevada’s elected leaders who supported the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act, which puts the country on the path to reducing carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030 — the largest step our federal government has ever taken to fight the climate crisis.
When the Biden administration announced its America the Beautiful initiative through the Department of the Interior, to conserve 30% of US lands and waters by 2030, Nevada wasted no time putting forward its own resolution supporting the measure, making the state the first in the nation to put out a 30 by 30 resolution of its kind. As one of the most biodiverse states in the nation, and facing rapid loss to wildlife and habitats, Nevada is a ripe for policies encouraging cross-collaboration among federal agencies, tribes, state and local governments, farmers, ranchers, hunters, outdoor recreationalists, and other stakeholders to protect and preserve Nevada’s lands, waters, and wildlife.