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For Immediate Release, November 16, 2010

Contact: Rob Mrowka, (702) 249-5821 or

Clark County Board of County Commissioners Passes Shortsighted Resolution on Growth

LAS VEGAS— Today the Clark County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to support the privatization of 215,000 acres of public land to facilitate their availability to developers for future growth. It did so without a public hearing.

The resolution comes after the board accepted a report from a 21-person committee that was heavily stacked with pro-development interests and municipal employees. The report recommends the addition of 215,000 acres of “take” under the Endangered Species Act — the harm, harassment or killing of endangered species — and, to facilitate it, the transfer of management responsibility of a similar number of acres from the Bureau of Land Management to Clark County to satisfy the “mitigation” normally required of the would-be developers. The report also recommends freezing fees paid by developers for conservation at a rate established in 2001.

Said Rob Mrowka, an ecologist and conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity in Nevada: “The fundamental question that needs to be answered before further growth in Clark County is facilitated is: Does the county have sufficient resources now and in the future to sustain the growth, particularly water in this time of increasing temperature and drought?”

Clark County and the cities of Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mesquite and North Las Vegas currently have an “incidental take permit” under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act to destroy up to 145,000 acres of desert habitat for development in exchange for a $550-per-acre fee paid by developers that funds conservation actions of federal lands in Clark County. Under the existing permit, 66,740 acres of “take” remain, according to a county report released Nov. 8.

“The desert tortoise and other imperiled species need this land a lot more than Clark County developers. In fact, the county’s rationale for seeking more land to support growth was based on outdated and shortsighted projections, and turns a blind eye to the fact that the population of Clark County is decreasing, not increasing,” said Mrowka. “Rather than spending our time divvying up public land for the highest bidder, we should take a go-slow approach that gives the community time to think about the smartest way to grow and the best ways to retain pristine public lands and other natural attributes that contribute to the quality of life.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 315,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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