For Immediate Release, March 30, 2012
Contact: Rob Mrowka, (702) 249-5821 or email@example.com
10,000-plus Public Acres in Upper Las Vegas Wash Will Not Be Sold to Private Developers
LAS VEGAS— In response to pressure from the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management today announced it was removing 10,670 acres of environmentally sensitive and important lands from the list of areas available for sale to private developers. This land lies between the northern boundaries of the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas and the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, in an area known as the Upper Las Vegas Wash or Tule Springs.
“This is great news for Nevada’s wildlife and ecosystems,” said Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based ecologist with the Center. “These lands are our last chance to preserve and protect the natural heritage of the Las Vegas Valley.”
In 2002, the lands covered by today’s decision were designated by Congress for sale to private developers pending an environmental analysis. As part of an effort to develop the necessary environmental documents, advocates for paleontological and biological resources pressured the BLM to defer its decision on disposing the lands and to initiate a new and unique study of the lands that became known as the “Conservation Transfer Area.”
“Today’s decision answers to the people and underscores the importance of continuing federal management of these lands,” said Mrowka.
Found on the now-protected lands are the fossils of ice-age mammals dating back more than 200,000 years, as well as ancient pollen contained in the sediments of what once were meadows filled with springs. Also notably present today are unique and special animals and plants such as the desert tortoise, burrowing owl and kit foxes, as well as Las Vegas bearpoppy, Merriam’s bearpoppy and Las Vegas buckwheat — a species the Center has petition to have protected under the Endangered Species Act.
These lands are also included in the boundary of a proposed national monument. “The BLM’s decision doesn’t preclude ultimate protection of the area under a national monument designation, but it does create a vital placeholder until Congress can act,” said Mrowka.
The Center is a key member of a coalition advocating for a national monument to be managed by the National Park Service.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 350,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.