78°F
weather icon Clear

Sen. Dean Heller urges Obama against last-minute monument designation for Gold Butte

Nevada’s soon-to-be senior U.S. senator doesn’t want to see any new national monuments designated in or around the state in the waning days of Barack Obama’s presidency.

In a letter to Obama Thursday, Sen. Dean Heller called on the president to “abandon any plans to unilaterally designate” new national monuments in the Gold Butte area of northeastern Clark County and in the Owyhee Canyonlands of southeastern Oregon, which borders Nevada.

“Despite what some advocates may portray, there is widespread local disagreement regarding these proposals,” wrote the Republican from Carson City.

As he notes in his letter, Heller will become the senior member of Nevada’s congressional delegation when Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid leaves office next year.

At Reid’s urging last year, Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate Basin and Range National Monument on 704,000 acres in Lincoln and Nye counties.

Now Reid is pushing the White House to set aside roughly 350,000 acres around the ghost town of Gold Butte.

Advocates for the proposal worry that this could be their last chance to set aside the area for a while. They don’t expect such conservation measures to find much support from a GOP-controlled Congress or the Trump administration.

The Gold Butte area is perhaps best known as the scene of a Bureau of Land Management cattle roundup that triggered the 2014 standoff between federal authorities and the armed supporters of local rancher Cliven Bundy.

The remote landscape hemmed in by Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon is also home to galleries of ancient rock art, fields of twisted sandstone and fossilized reptile tracks that predate the dinosaurs.

The proposed Owyhee Canyonlands National Monument would take in more than 2 million acres of public land along the Nevada border in southeastern Oregon.

The area is about 115 miles east of the now-famous Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where two of Bundy’s sons led an anti-government occupation earlier this year.

In his letter, Heller said he remains committed to what he called “the Nevada model” for conserving land through a collaborative legislative process like the one in 2014 that led to the creation of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument at the northern edge of the Las Vegas Valley.

“Any action that vastly changes the management of hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land, including the establishment of any new national monuments, ought to be considered through the public congressional process,” he wrote.

Heller sent a similar letter to the White House in 2014 warning Obama against designating Gold Butte after Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., urged presidential action to protect what she called “a national treasure in Southern Nevada.”

Obama has already designated two dozen national monuments from Maine to Hawaii, the most of any president.

During a press conference in Las Vegas in August, Reid said he was confident Gold Butte would be added to that list.

“It’s going to happen,” the outgoing senator said.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

Heller Letter to President Obama on National Monument Designation by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Clark County expands no-gunfire zones

The boundary in Clark County where it is illegal to shoot guns was expanded this week to include Lovell Canyon Road and areas in the southwest and northeast portions of the Las Vegas Valley.