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Trash, cattle overwhelming 2 national monuments near Vegas, lawsuit says

Environmentalists at the Center for Biological Diversity are calling on the Bureau of Land Management to make a plan to better preserve Nevada’s national monuments, according to a complaint filed Monday in federal court.

The two areas in question are Gold Butte and Basin and Range, both designated as national monuments under the Obama administration. The center’s staff is worried that heightened interest in the sites has translated to more garbage and unmanaged cattle grazing, which it says is damaging habitat for the threatened desert tortoise.

Gold Butte is located in Clark County, while Basin and Range lies on the border of Lincoln and Nye counties. Both are about a two-hour drive from Las Vegas.

“Preservation doesn’t just happen,” Patrick Donnelly, the group’s Great Basin director, said in a statement. “That’s why agencies have legal mandates to develop plans for the protection of these landscapes. It’s time for the BLM to fulfill its duty.”

The BLM declined to comment on the lawsuit.

A public scoping process began in 2022 for a Gold Butte plan, but the project site now lists it as canceled. The agency received public input in 2016 for a Basin and Range plan, though the complaint says the BLM hasn’t moved forward since then.

The center’s attorneys claim the BLM has violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, specifically the provision that requires the agency to develop management plans for upkeep. President Barack Obama’s proclamation for Basin and Range also included a line declaring that a management plan would need to be in place within three years.

For years, visitors have flocked to the monuments to see petroglyphs — relics of Nevada’s ancient history. Between the two parks, there are over 1 million acres of public lands the lawsuit claims the BLM is obligated to protect.

“BLM’s failure to follow the law is leading to them deteriorating in front of our eyes,” Donnelly said. “Our national monuments are precious, the best of the best. We’re taking the BLM to court to ensure they’re treated that way.”

Contact Alan at ahalaly@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlanHalaly on X.

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