Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to hold open house meetings

There’s a lot happening at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and the Bureau of Land Management team is eager to tell the public all about it.

To accomplish this goal, t he BLM has initiated a new avenue for reaching the public — monthly open house meetings, which are scheduled from 2 to 7 p.m. the third Thursday of each month in the Visitor Center.

"We’re here and we’re available," said Tim Wakefield, Red Rock Canyon field manager.

The first open house was March 17. A sign-in sheet showed that only six residents showed up during the five-hour period. It was as many people as were there representing management. A website glitch combined with the St. Patrick’s Day holiday were blamed for the poor turnout.

The next one is slated for April 21. The meetings will alert residents to upcoming projects, generate discussion and take input.

"We want to engage the public more," said Robbie McAboy, n ational c onservation a rea manager for Red Rock and Sloan canyons. "We have heard from the public that there’s a huge disconnect between users and management. With these meetings, we are hoping to bridge that gap and provide an avenue for full disclosure."

Some of those disclosure issues include a transportation feasibility study now under way. It is looking at better strategies for managing traffic for Red Rock Canyon, whether that means opening a parking lot, having shuttles on the Scenic L oop Drive or making changes that a ffect the flow of traffic.

There also is a utility feasibility study looking at Red Rock Canyon’s water availability, sewer capacity and telecommunication limitations, something that’s been an issue for years.

"We’ve got about an acre-foot allotment from back when we were getting 20,000 people a year," said Wakefield. "Now we have one and a half million people coming here."

He said Red Rock Canyon should be allotted something closer to 3 acre-feet a year.

Another issue the BLM is eyeing: a federal highway study, which could see Red Rock Canyon receiving $14 million over six years. It has the Red R ock Canyon crew figuratively crossing its fingers.

"We’re not making any big promises," said McAboy. "And our Washington office knows there’s a need."

Still, she estimated there’s a 90 percent chance Red Rock Canyon will receive the funding.

How the money will be used is something to be discussed at future open house meetings, which also will focus on items such as the Junior Ranger book, handed out to school-age children. It’s something that hasn’t been updated since 1992.

The revamped version is on track to replace the old one in October.

The Keystone paper, which is handed out at the park entrance, also has been updated and is expected to come out this month . The free Natural Wonders brochure that can be found at the Visitor Center also will see changes and is due out this fall.

The April open house is scheduled to include a fire management presentation and information on eradicating fire hazard plants such as the fast-growing red brome, which is not native to the area.

While any topic can be brought up, Red Rock Canyon is looking to focus on one topic at a time. It will give a presentation for each topic , including informing the public about the "159 multi-use trail," a non motorized route that connects Summerlin to Red Rock Canyon and gets hikers and joggers off the highway.

Another topic is addressing bolting in the wilderness for safety and for establishing new routes. This will require heavy public involvement and an amendment to the current Resource Management Plan.

While the dates to address these topics have not yet been set, information related to when they will be addressed can be found on the BLM’s website two weeks before the established meeting date.

For more information, visit blm.gov/nv.

Contact Summerlin and Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 387-2949.

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