Protecting Nevada’s public treasures (Opinion)
On a beautiful August day, community leaders from across Nevada gathered at Sand Harbor State Park with the backdrop of tall pines, sandy beaches, and the incredibly clear waters of Lake Tahoe to celebrate the second anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act. This law, which we both helped pass in the U.S. Senate, permanently and fully funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The celebration was in a fitting location to commemorate the monumental legislation that will safeguard and maintain places like it for decades to come.
It all began in 1965, when Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect treasured natural wonders and cultural landmarks, from national parks to wildlife refuges, forests to wetlands, battlefields to city parks. Unfortunately, the LWCF rarely got the money it needed to do its job fully.
All that changed in 2020 when we were part of a bipartisan push in Congress to pass the Great American Outdoors Act into law. We championed this law because we knew that permanently funding the LWCF would ensure that generations to come could enjoy Nevada’s outstanding public lands and natural treasures. And the fund’s track record speaks for itself. Since its creation, the LWCF has brought more than $178 million to our state, including funding for places like Sand Harbor and Great Basin National Park in White Pine County. These funds have helped cement Nevada as an outdoor recreation destination and fueled our economy.
As one of the most popular parks in the Lake Tahoe Basin, Sand Harbor is a perfect example of what the LWCF has done and still can do for Nevadans. The park serves a million visitors a year and is a longtime beneficiary of LWCF funding. Eight LWCF grants were awarded to the park, helping develop it into one of Lake Tahoe’s premier destinations.
But that is just one of many projects across Northern Nevada that the LWCF has funded. From Ash Canyon near Carson City to Walker River State Recreation Area to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, there are LWCF-funded projects in every single county in Nevada. These parks and recreation areas see at least 15 million visitors annually, and they are the backbone of the outdoor recreation industry that contributes billions to Nevada’s economy each year.
There’s so much more the LWCF can do to ensure we are protecting our national treasures and ensuring every community has access to outdoor recreation opportunities. We’re continuing to work with our colleagues in Congress and local and state partners to help address the still-growing list of conservation and recreation opportunities in the state that need investment and support. But with the Great American Outdoors Act now law, Nevada has more powerful tools than ever to ensure that residents and visitors alike can enjoy everything our spectacular outdoors have to offer.
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