Nevada's New National Monument Draws Criticism

Jul 10, 2015

President Barack Obama designated the Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada Friday. It's a region of desert valleys rich in prehistory and recent history, along with wildlife.
Credit Bureau of Land Management
President Barack Obama used executive powers Friday to designate a huge swath of Southern Nevada as a new national monument, but the move has drawn criticism from several local lawmakers. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports. 

The president's decision will protect more than 1,100-square miles of desert and mountain terrain by creating the Basin and Range National Monument. U.S. Senator Harry Reid and other Democrats are hailing the move as historic.

Several groups have also voiced support, including the Sierra Club and the Outside Las Vegas Foundation, led by Mauricia Baca. She says local support for the monument has grown in recent years, and the designation will add a new layer of diversity to the state's tourism industry.

"I think having this new national monument designated is a way of highlighting the natural beauty and artistic and the cultural elements that we have in Nevada that a lot of people maybe aren't as aware of," Baca says.

But the monument is also being questioned by state Republicans who say the designation process wasn't transparent.

State Congressmen Cresent Hardy, Joe Heck and Mark Amodei say the move was an act of political cronyism between Senator Reid and President Obama. They're also arguing that both lawmakers and local officials in the affected counties were not properly consulted before the president set aside an area the size of Rhode Island.