US officials end effort to revamp southern Nevada land plan
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A decade-long effort to rewrite a management plan for southern Nevada land has been cut short, leaving one environmental group to question whether new restrictions from the Trump administration may have made the plan impossible to complete.
Federal officials, however, say the update is no longer needed.
The land management plan sets a framework for using 3.1 million acres of U.S. government-owned land in Clark County and Nye County.
It was last updated 20 years ago and in 2008, work began to update the massive document as the population has grown.
A draft released in 2014 was met with heavy criticism by some local officials, including the Nye County Commission, which issued an official resolution calling the draft “repugnant.”
Work continued on the effort and a series of public meetings were held for review of the draft early this year. As recently as August, BLM spokesman John Asselin said officials were continuing to work on the document.
The updates were expected to include areas set aside for solar energy development and environmental protection.
But officials have decided to end the process rather than continue the effort, according to an email from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s acting manager for Gold Butte National Monument, James Lee Kirk.
In the email, obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Kirk said land planners decided the update wasn’t needed because many of the changes have already been made through legislation and amendments to the existing plan.
Kevin Emmerich of Nevada environmental group Basin and Range Watch, said it’s possible that limits from the U.S. Interior Department may have made it difficult to complete and would have forced officials to trim about 1,900 pages from the document.
The U.S. Interior Department last year limited environmental impact statements to 300 pages and required them to be finished within one year. The department also required the southern Nevada plan to be finished by April 27, 2019 — about two years earlier than expected.
Emmerich said canceling the update could make it more difficult to protect environmentally sensitive land.