|Reid introduces Tule Springs monument bill|
|Written by Wild Nevada|
|Wednesday, 27 June 2012 12:47|
Sen. Harry Reid has introduced the Las Vegas Valley Public Lands and Tule Springs Fossil Beds Monument Act, which would designate approximately 22,650 acres as the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument in southern Nevada and expand the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Reid introduced the bill with Sen. Dean Heller, and Rep. Shelley Berkley is introducing a companion bill in the House of Representatives.“The Las Vegas Valley Lands and Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument Act is an ambitious piece of legislation, built on years of stakeholder input. It provides for balanced development and job creation within the Las Vegas Valley, while protecting vital natural and scientific resources that should be made more accessible for the public’s enjoyment and education. By making long-term and forward-looking improvements to public land management and stewardship in the Las Vegas valley, I believe we have crafted a bill that will serve the best interests of Nevadans,” Reid said.
Over 400 paleontological sites have been discovered, providing a record of human activity dating back 11,000 years ago, and the monument, which would fall within the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, would be bounded by the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, the Red Rock National Conservation Area, and the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area.
Proponents of the monument estimate that it will generate tens-of-millions of dollars for the regional economy within the early years of operation. Supporters include the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, Clark County, Gov. Brian Sandoval, the State of Nevada’s Division of State Parks and the National Parks Conservation Association.The legislation also makes more land available for the expansion of campuses within the Nevada System of Higher Education, broadens the Red Rock National Conservation Area and helps improve management of the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area.
It also conveys land to Clark County for an off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation park, and designates public lands surrounding the park as an OHV recreation area to help keep riders off of sensitive lands and habitat. Finally, the bill designates a corridor, under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, for a transmission line that will be primarily used to carry renewable energy.
Efforts have been under way for years to make the 13,000-acre Tule Springs at the northern corner of the Las Vegas Valley a national monument.
Tule Springs is considered the “most significant ice age fossil site” in the United States because it’s chock full of fossils from animals that roamed the area between 7,000 and 200,000 years ago. There are 438 Ice Age fossil sites. Those critters included everything from mammoths to ground sloths – as well as the lions and other predators that came by to hunt them.
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, certain archaeological features of the area have already been covered by housing developments or damaged by off-road vehicle traffic.