Saturday, March 22, 2014 | 2:02 a.m.
I read Terry Murphy’s guest opinion “Listing sage grouse as protected would be disastrous for Nevada” with an almost humorous sense of déjà vu.
In 1989, just as the desert tortoise was being listed as threatened, I was the Nevada Department of Transportation’s biologist in Carson City. In the days preceding that listing, the air was full of dire predictions about Southern Nevada’s economy grinding to a halt should the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intervene on the tortoise’s behalf.
Yes, some highway projects were sent back to square one as tortoise protection measures were incorporated into the basic design. And, yes, this resulted in delaying initiation and completion of some projects. But I can’t think of one project that was actually stopped.
Among the projects that proceeded, the already-underway U.S. 95 extension continued; Interstate-15 expansion continued; the 215 Beltway was built; and state routes 163 (Laughlin Highway) and 160 (Pahrump Highway) were expanded from two-lane to divided four-lane thoroughfares. Simultaneously, Las Vegas and Henderson continued to grow.
I’m sure that listing the sage grouse would precipitate a great deal of temporary uncertainty and angst, and it would definitely increase some project costs and timelines, but I haven’t the slightest fear that Northern Nevada’s economies will be stopped dead as a result. The world just doesn’t work that way.