Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2019

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Protesters rally against proposed state takeover of federal land

State Federal Land Transfer

Kyle Roerink

Larry Johnson, president of Nevada Coalition of Wildlife, speaks to a group of about 50 protesters in Carson City in opposition to a measure asking the federal government to turn over land for the state to control.

Protesters gathered outside the Nevada Legislature today to preemptively rebuke a Republican-backed resolution calling for the federal government to transfer public lands to the state.

Detractors say a state land grab will cost Nevada $100 million a year and strip taxpayers of their public lands.

The GOP’s push begins today and dovetails with legislation in other western states where lawmakers think federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have too much control.

The federal government owns 87 percent of the land in Nevada.

The land-transfer efforts spawn from the sagebrush rebellion in the 1970s and channel a deep-seated distrust of the federal government from the far right in the West.

Nevada considered a similar proposal in 2001 but is piggybacking off of similar efforts in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and New Mexico.

Nevada lawmakers in support of the proposal have identified a handful of areas they want the state to control, including parts of Gold Butte, the Sonoma Mountain Range and the Humboldt Mountain Range.

A transfer could mean less hiking, fishing and camping areas for the public, said Larry Johnson, president of Nevada Coalition of Wildlife.

At statehood, the federal government handed Nevada 2.7 million acres of land to manage. Since then, the state has sold 2.4 million acres.

“The reality is that every time Nevada had public lands in its possession, they’ve sold it to private hands,” said Kyle Davis, a conservation lobbyist in the Legislature.

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