To the editor:
Earlier this month, more than 100 economists, including three Nobel Laureates, signed a letter to President Barack Obama urging federal support to establish new protected areas such as national parks, wilderness areas and national monuments, particularly in the Western part of the United States.
Their reason: These projects have a substantial impact on economic growth and job creation.
In Southern Nevada, we have reaped tremendous economic and quality of life benefits from federally protected lands. Imagine how much benefit our residents and visitors get out of such public wonderlands as Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Mount Charleston and Lee Canyon. We have another national treasure that has the same potential to be a major local and national attraction -- the proposed Tule Springs National Monument that encompasses the length of the entire northern section of the Las Vegas Wash.
Not only is this site filled with potential recreational benefit, but this section of the Las Vegas Wash is also internationally recognized as one of the most significant fossil bed sites in North America depicting life in the Ice Age, a period covering more than 200,000 years of climate change and biological adaptation. Fossils from prehistoric camels, woolly mammoths, giant sloths, lions and other animals have been unearthed at the site, along with fossils representing an abundance of marine and plant life.
Recently, 1,500 members of the Vertibrate Paleontological Society held their annual meeting in Las Vegas precisely because of its proximity to this incredible site.
As the elected leaders of our respective local and tribal governmental entities, we are urging our congressional delegation to come together and act quickly to establish this national monument and to provide the resources to turn it into a world-class visitor site. The economic and quality of life benefits are tremendous.
As the economists' letter points out: "Today, one of the competitive strengths of the West is the unique combination of wide-open spaces, scenic vistas and recreational opportunities alongside vibrant, growing communities that are connected to larger markets via the Internet, highways and commercial air service. Increasingly, entrepreneurs are basing their business location decisions on the quality of life in an area. Businesses are recruiting talented employees by promoting access to beautiful, nearby public lands. This is happening in western cities and rural areas alike."
By protecting and creating recreational opportunities in our canyons, rivers, deserts and mountains, we also establish a unique and compelling environment that plays a pivotal role in attracting and retaining people and businesses. Public lands, such as the proposed Tule Springs National Monument, support activities like hunting, fishing and hiking that improve our quality of life, attracting visitors and supporting economic growth.
We encourage our delegation to join together and move for swift action. We have a golden opportunity to do something today that will have immediate impact and that will positively affect generations to come.
Carolyn G. Goodman
Shari L. Buck
The writers are mayor of Las Vegas, mayor of North Las Vegas and chairwoman of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, respectively.