By Shevawn Von Tobel, Outreach and Communications Manager at Friends of Nevada Wilderness
The southern Nevada campaign to gain permanent protection for Nevada’s piece of the Grand Canyon, Gold Butte, hit an important milestone last month. Nevada’s Gold Butte champion, Senator Harry Reid, made an impressive speech on the Senate floor calling on President Obama to declare Gold Butte as a National Monument. The Senator also pointed out the extensive damage that has been occurring in the area such as graffiti of petroglyphs, destruction of Joshua trees, and construction of illegal developments and ended his speech with the poignant quote, “When we preserve our lands, we preserve America.”
Senator Harry Reid also pointed to the tremendous impacts protected public lands have on local and state economies. He highlighted a recent study done by the Small Business Majority which looked at ten of the twenty-two National Monuments President Obama has designated. The ten monuments studied in the report have a total economic impact of $156 million per year, drive approximately $58 million in labor income per year, and support approximately 1,820 jobs annually. It is no wonder then that more and more local businesses in southern Nevada are also calling on President Obama for protection of Gold Butte – they understand that protecting Nevada’s public lands means protecting Nevada’s economy.
Senator Reid has made big conservation gains in his thirty years in office – designating 69 wilderness areas (3.4 million acres), three National Conservation Areas, one National Park, and, his most recent achievement, Basin and Range National Monument. The Gold Butte National Monument will make for a valuable addition to the Senator’s conservation legacy. This new chapter of the Gold Butte campaign would not be possible without the tremendous support of the Conservation Alliance and its outdoor business members. We’d like to especially thank Conservation Alliance member, KEEN Footwear, for amplifying the Gold Butte message to a national level through their innovative Live Monumental campaign.