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Power line plan draws opposition

Supporters of a proposed national park in northwest Las Vegas on Wednesday urged North Las Vegas leaders to fight an NV Energy bid to build a transmission line across the site.

“Too many people have worked too hard and too long as a team to get this monument for our city,” Jill DeStefano, founder of Protectors of Tule Springs, told the City Council during public comment.

The new national park would protect Ice Age fossils and rare plants that might be erased if more power lines are allowed to cross the park areas, backers of the park have said.

The council on Wednesday authorized the city attorney to “intervene” in any actions that come before the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada concerning permits for the transmission line.

It’s important for the city to “put our voice, our opinion in there” when the commission considers the transmission line, Mayor Shari Buck said.

Supporters of the park are worried about NV Energy’s desire for right of way in an area that’s being considered for national monument status, which would protect fossils of mammoths, North American jaguars and other creatures as well as plant species such as the Las Vegas buckwheat and the Las Vegas bearpoppy.

Officials from the cities of North Las Vegas and Las Vegas have joined with Clark County, the Paiute tribe, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Air Force and Protectors of Tule Springs to champion the proposal.

It calls for designating 23,000 acres bordering the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and the Sheep Mountain Range. The area is rich with the fossils of animals that roamed the valley 200,000 years ago, and it’s viewed as a potential bonanza for scientific research, as well as a unique tourist draw.

“Can you imagine people coming to Southern Nevada because we have a national monument that is unique in the world? How exciting that would be,” said Rita Ransom, representing the Sierra Club.

NV Energy has said the new transmission line will be necessary to deliver power from Amargosa Valley solar projects.

The line also would support expansion of the electrical system in the north end of the valley and at the Apex Industrial Park, an NV Energy spokeswoman said in a statement.

There are power lines running across the monument area already at Moccasin Road, and the new lines would parallel those, she said. At Decatur Boulevard, the new lines would occupy a new transmission corridor running along the north edge of the proposed monument’s boundary.

A few members of the local organized labor community spoke Wednesday in favor of building the transmission line to bring jobs to Southern Nevada.

Buck said NV Energy is working with stakeholders to find “alternatives that are suitable and appropriate.”

“They recognize the importance of this national park monument, and support it as we do,” she said.

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.

 

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