Nevadans Applaud ‘Public Lands Rule’ Emphasizing Conservation and Recreation

Act Now for Public Lands

Rule can help boost local economies by ensuring healthy communities, wildlife, and cultural values

Mandi Elliott,, 713-397-1008  

Photos for Media Use 

April 18, 2024 (Las Vegas) – After prioritizing extractive industries for the past 40 years, today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its final “Public Lands Rule” to balance and uphold its multiple-use mission. The Biden administration’s bold, comprehensive framework places climate change mitigation, outdoor recreation, cultural lands protection, and conservation, on equal footing with industrial development in Nevada and across the West. Small business owners and outdoor recreation leaders, local elected officials, sportsmen, and other community members throughout the Battleborn State are celebrating this once-in-a-generation opportunity for local collaboration with the agency to address intensifying drought, wildfires, and other threats to public lands and waters.

“The Public Lands Rule will bolster our outdoor recreation economy, while safeguarding Nevadans way of life,” said Mandi Elliott executive director of the Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition.  “Businesses across the state depend on our BLM lands for their livelihoods. This ranges from outfitters who help visitors near and far experience all that our great outdoors have to offer, local breweries and mom and pop shops, hotels and grocery stores, and others who all understand that public lands are an integral part of their business model.”

As the nation’s largest land manager (245 million acres), the BLM plays a critical role in Nevada,  managing over  48 million acres of lands across the state, areas vitally important to the conservation of water, wildlife, cultural resources, and our growing demand for access to the outdoors.  However, these places are at risk from extreme weather events and loss of natural areas that are causing rapid changes across the state.  The BLM’s new rule will help residents adapt to these challenges by providing the agency and local communities with fiscally responsible management tools, such as applying land-health standards and strengthening existing conservation options. Co-stewardship and co-management with Tribal nations who have cared for these lands and waters since time immemorial are also crucial to the success of the rule.

Melissa Skelton with Nevada Artemis, a sportswoman’s group, added “Nevada’s public lands provide habitat for diverse wildlife populations, contain important cultural resources, and offer endless opportunities for hunting and recreation. But these lands are threatened by drought, wildfire, invasive species, and human development. The Bureau of Land Management’s Public Lands Rule will give the agency the necessary tools to restore degraded ecosystems and conserve the large intact landscapes that wildlife need for survival.”

Businesses across Nevada depend on our Bureau of Land Management lands for their livelihoods. In 2022, the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that outdoor recreation contributed $6.1 billion to Nevada’s economy, supporting 53,835 jobs.  And now, thanks to the Public Lands Rule, Nevada can continue to harness the economic advantages that come from outdoor recreation.

“The Bureau of Land Management stewards 48 million acres of land in Nevada, but more than 80% of those lands fail to meet land health standards,” added Russell Kuhlman, Executive Director, Nevada Wildlife Federation. “The Public Lands Rule provides tools that the agency can use to help restore and conserve these lands so that wildlife and our sporting traditions can flourish for future generations.” 

This new direction is widely popular. A Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project 2024 Conservation in the West Poll found that 68 percent of Nevada voters would rather protect air, water, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities over oil and gas development.  During the BLM’s 2023 public process, more than 90 percent of comments were in favor of elevating conservation for a more balanced approach to public land management.  Legal experts have repeatedly confirmed that the rule upholds BLM’s core mission, including 8 state attorneys general and 27 law professors

 “As an elected official in a state where BLM manages nearly two-thirds of the land, I’m in strong support of elevating conservation as a use on par with other more intensive uses,” said Howard Watts III, Nevada Assembly Majority Whip and Chair of the Growth & Infrastructure Committee. “Nevadans treasure our public lands and want much of it protected for recreation access and conservation of natural and cultural resources.”

Local officials, including those in Nevada,  joined more than 120 past and present western elected officials calling for additional protection of lands managed by the BLM.

Nevada’s congressional delegation has been at the forefront of protecting public lands – whether it is supporting conservation legislation or working closely with the BLM on management plans. Now, Nevadans are looking to the entire delegation – Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, Representatives Dina Titus, Mark Amodei, Susie Lee, and Steven Horsford – to join them in working with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on implementing the Public Lands Rule.

Jen Gurecki, the chief executive officer of Coalition Snow said, “The Public Lands Rule is a vital step in ensuring equitable access and conservation of Nevada’s natural treasures, and I want to thank the Bureau of Land Management for its thorough process. I look forward to the agency implementing this rule and having some additional tools to use for conservation. As we move forward, we look forward to working with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, who have shown their unwavering support and partnership in safeguarding our public lands for future generations to enjoy.”

Nevadans are urging the Biden administration to get to work on the ground to implement the agency’s modernized vision. They are also asking the administration to facilitate collaboration between local BLM offices with Tribal Nations and local communities to safeguard places like  Esmeralda/Fish Lake ACEC before it’s too late.

“Nevada’s public lands can be the place where we show the nation that building responsible renewable energy projects to fight the climate crisis and protect amazing wild places across the state, that we know and love, can and must work together,” said Jose Witt, Mojave Desert Landscape Director of The Wilderness Society.  “The Biden Administration and the BLM deserve a lot of credit for championing renewable energy development through their new renewable energy rule and planning efforts, ultimately ensuring the future of our state’s remaining wild places through the public lands rule.  We must do both, and the Biden administration has given us the tools to ensure a sustainable future.”


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