The Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act Is A Bipartisan Victory
Pershing County is a beautiful, historic area of the country located in Western Nevada. Home to the Black Rock Desert, the Burning Man Festival, the historic town of Lovelock, and countless beautiful natural landmarks, it’s no doubt Pershing County is an important part of the fabric of America. This county, however, is 75% owned by the Bureau of Land Management, and with so much federally managed land, economic growth is almost at a standstill and conservation efforts ineffective. The Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act (S. 414) introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and its House companion bill (H.R. 1107) introduced by Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV-2) seek a new era of growth, conservation, and effective land management for the county.
Conservation is a preeminent feature of this bill. It designates specific federal lands to become part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. This system protects ecologically crucial lands across the country and allows wildlife in the area to remain in their natural habitat without interference.
This legislation also seeks to free economically viable and ecologically crucial land from the BLM. Freeing up more land for the people of Pershing County to use will spur economic growth in many regards. It would allow current claim holders of the land to purchase it rather than leasing it. There are several industries active on the lands, such as ranching and mineral mining. It would also allow people and companies interested in developing the area to make a more solid investment in the area. Owning newly freed up property in the county opens up many opportunities for investors. This will, in turn, create a flurry of investments, job growth, and ultimately economic opportunity in the county.
A great feature of this bill is also the outline of the process. The bill specifies that both the county and the Department of the Interior will together decide which lands to trade off or sell, stressing the importance of local government in land management. It also specifies where proceeds from the sale of lands must go. 5% of proceeds would go back to the State of Nevada to go towards education, and 10% would go back to the county for general funding. The rest is to be put into a special treasury account that would fund conservation and habitat restoration projects, the purchasing of ecologically sensitive land in the district, drought mitigation, and other crucial environmental funding.
The American Conservation Coalition commends both Senator Dean Heller and Congressman Mark Amodei for their leadership on the Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act. The bill has, for good reason, spurred vast bipartisan support, with sponsors from both sides of the aisle. The bill allows the local community to control the project, balances environmental concerns with economic concerns, and will generate much-needed revenue for the area. Ultimately, the bill will allow Nevada as well as Pershing County to take control of hundreds of thousands of acres of land and allow them to more effectively manage them. The House has passed this legislation, but the Senate has yet to act on it. ACC hopes to see swift action on this bill from the Senate for the wellbeing of the county and the conservation efforts it would bring.
Nick is a Senior at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY, pursuing his bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in communications. He plans on continuing his education by obtaining an MBA.