Feds to Hold Public Meeting Today on Proposed National Monument

Advocates say the creation of a new national monument at Spirit Mountain would be a boon to the outdoor economy in Southern Nevada. (Kirk Peterson)

By Suzanne Potter

The proposed national monument to be called Avi Kwa Ame is getting a big boost today as the top leaders of the Bureau of Land Management hold a public meeting in Laughlin.

Tracy Stone-Manning, director of the BLM, will hear from a range of stakeholders on the 450,000-acre proposed monument near Searchlight.

Taylor Patterson, executive director of the Native Voters Alliance of Nevada and a member of the Bishop Paiute tribe, said the area is the center of the creation story for many Yuman-speaking tribes.

“It’s the place where all of their traditional stories and knowledge comes from,” Patterson explained. “For our Southern Paiute tribes in the area, it’s also a part of the Salt Song trail. And so that tells, really, the life cycle of Paiute people and how they moved through the land and all the important places, plants and animals in the area.”

Avi Kwa Ame is the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain, The area is also important habitat for mule deer and bighorn sheep. There has been no organized opposition to the project.

Grace Palermo, Southern Nevada director for Friends of Nevada Wilderness, said past proposals to build a wind farm in the area galvanized efforts to protect the land.

“The idea that huge wind turbines could go up in this area could really damage habitat for wildlife and the view shed, and possibly create access issues for folks who are out on these lands,” Palermo asserted.

Louis Bubala, director and treasurer of the Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition, said a monument designation would get more people excited about visiting the area, adding to the state’s $4 billion outdoor economy.

“If we get a new national monument, you’re going to have people exploring the land and visiting Searchlight, Laughlin, Boulder City,” Bubala outlined. “Henderson is a launching spot to get out there.”

Craig Bakerjian, campaign manager for the Avi Kwa Ame Coalition, a program of the Nevada Conservation League, said the monument will further state and federal goals to preserve 30% of the land by 2030, and reduce carbon pollution to boot.

“Climate change is a very real threat,” Bakerjian contended. “And part of the way that we can mitigate that is with undisturbed natural resources which act as carbon sinks.”

Congresswoman Dina Titus filed a bill in February to create the new national monument. President Joe Biden has the power under the Antiquities Act to make the designation on his own.

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