Nevada Democrats push for monument protections

CARSON CITY — The Democrats in the Nevada Assembly want President Donald Trump to lay off Nevada’s national monuments.

On the eve of Trump’s order Wednesday to review monument declarations, the Assembly passed a resolution supporting the monument designation for Gold Butte and Basin and Range.

Assembly Joint Resolution 13 passed 27-15 late Tuesday along party-line votes, with Republicans objecting.

The vote, while symbolic, underscores the chasm between supporters of the monument designation and opponents who contend that the decisions amount to federal overreach. About 85 percent of land in Nevada belongs to the federal government.

Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to identify national monuments that can be rescinded or resized, part of a push to open up more federal lands to drilling, mining and other developments.

The Assembly resolution is intended to tell Congress and the president to leave the lands protected.

“We are fortunate to live in a state that is so dedicated to protecting our lands and waterways,” said Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, D-Las Vegas, the resolution sponsor.

“Gold Butte and Basin and Range are iconic elements of Nevada. They are a part of our natural heritage and a part of our state’s identity,” said Swank, also chairwoman of the Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining Committee. “Unfortunately, Donald Trump fails to understand the importance these stunning lands have to Nevadans.

“It’s time to send a clear message to the White House to keep their bureaucratic hands off our public lands.”

Trump’s order could undo the work of President Barack Obama, who designated both Nevada national monuments.

Basin and Range National Monument, on 704,000 acres of federal land in Lincoln and Nye counties, 120 miles north of Las Vegas, was designated in July 2015.

Obama in December established Gold Butte National Monument on 335,000 acres of federal land in Clark County, 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

On the Assembly floor before the vote, Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, said he’s concerned by the large amounts of land that Nevadans are unable to control because they aren’t in the state’s hands.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Contact Ben Botkin at or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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