Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
A nearly 6-acre area of Henderson that for years had been used, illegally, by off-road riders and by people who found it a convenient place to dump garbage is now a nature park.
Opened at the end of September after several years of planning and restorative work, the park features interconnected and multi-use trails, a natural brook, native vegetation and interpretive centers.
Three of the park’s seven trails are accessible to people who use wheelchairs.
The Whitney Mesa Nature Preserve, at 1990 Galleria Drive (at Russell Road), also provides habitat for birds, rabbits and other desert animals.
The transformation of this land has been remarkable. During its reconstruction, for example, Henderson city crews had to haul out 14 abandoned cars. Now the land is a haven for families, walkers, joggers, bicyclists, dog walkers — anyone interested in experiencing an oasis in the desert.
In a story by Jeremy Twitchell that ran last week on the Las Vegas Sun’s Web page, Kim Becker, Henderson’s Parks and Recreation spokeswoman, noted the new park’s distinctiveness. “It is off the beaten path. It’s more about the outdoors and education. This offers a different type of enjoyment than what you do in a traditional park,” she said.
This park, which cost $1.7 million, is an example of why the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, strongly supported by Nevada’s congressional delegation, was such an important piece of federal legislation. The act, which became law in 1998, provided the funding for this project.
The law was passed to provide Nevada and area local governments with some compensation for the large amount of federally owned land here, land that cannot be converted into tax-producing homes and businesses. The act requires that proceeds from sales of federal land in the Las Vegas area be shared with the state and local governments for specific purposes, including the building of parks, trails and nature areas.
Henderson made good use of the funding in building the Whitney Mesa Nature Preserve.