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April 24, 2014

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Heck’s mine-cleanup, search-and-rescue bills clear committee

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Richard Brian

During a tour of the Three Kids Mine site Wednesday, Mindy Unger-Wadkins, project manager of Unger Development, looks into a mining pit that must be filled.

Three Kids Mine

Bob Unger, president of Unger Development, gives a tour of the 1,200-acre Three Kids Mine site on Wednesday. Unger says he wants to build a mixed-use development project on the old mine site near Lake Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Two more Nevada public lands bills are one step closer to consideration by the full House of Representatives, after the Natural Resources Committee green-lighted Rep. Joe Heck’s bills to effect a cleanup of an abandoned mine in Henderson and streamline search-and-rescue efforts on public lands.

Heck’s Three Kids Mine legislation, which is on its second tour through the House, would transfer almost a thousand acres of land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management near Lake Mead to Henderson, giving the municipality the ability to clean up an abandoned manganese mine that Heck and others have called a “toxic waste dump.”

The committee also voted to approve Heck’s Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act, which would require the government to issue permits to volunteer groups seeking to aid missing persons recovery efforts within 48 hours, and waive liability whether or not the groups are equipped with an insurance policy. The legislation was inspired by the experience of volunteer search-and-rescue groups that discovered the bodies of Keith Goldberg and Air Force Staff Sgt. Antonio Tucker in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area nearly one year after their disappearance — a delay caused solely by the group’s inability to obtain search permits and insurance policies on a timelier basis.

“The Good Samaritan search bill will help bring closure for the families of missing persons, and the Three Kids Mine bill will help create local jobs,” Heck said in a statement. “I am hopeful that following today’s strong bipartisan votes these bills will be moved to the House floor and advance a step closer to becoming law.”

Both bills were approved by unanimous consent. In the Senate, Sen. Harry Reid has introduced companion legislation to the Three Kids Mine bill, and Dean Heller has sponsored companion legislation to the Good Samaritan Reclamation Act. All members of the Nevada delegation have lent their support to the Three Kids Mine bill; Rep. Mark Amodei is also a co-sponsor to the Good Samaritan bill in the House.

The delegation agreed in February that the House should act first on Nevada’s public lands bills.

Nevada still has many bills pending before the House Natural Resources Committee, including legislation to declare a National Conservation Area at Gold Butte, and a bill to swap the designation of 48,000 acres of land in Lyon County’s Wovoka Forest as wilderness, in exchange for the release of approximately 10,000 acres of public land to Yerington to use toward the development of a copper mine.

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