Sunday, October 2, 2011

Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board and Federal Lands

At our 2011 September Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board meeting we adopted with a unanimous vote, the following position letters to send to our elected representatives in Washington DC.

A member of the community who had recently moved to the valley made a comment about the Town Board taking time to deal with federal issues and public lands. For a person who grew up in the west, and especially when the vast majority of our state is controlled by the federal government, I am well aware of the significance that federal policy has on our daily lives. Its impacts are felt in a variety of ways. It doesn’t matter if it is mining regulation, wildlife and ecology policy, environmental policy, renewable energy regulation, recreational use policy, funding for our land management agencies or national parks or a diverse range of other policy initiatives. When it comes to our federal lands its management has a direct impact on our life. It is important for the local communities, who are closest to the land and aware of its impacts and uses, to send their views and concerns to their representatives.

I was proud to cast my vote in support for the following letters as a member of the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board

Dear Senator Heller,

As stated in another letter, we deeply appreciate your attention to the issues that concern the citizens of Moapa Valley.  As the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board, we are compelled to communicate the opinions of a majority of our residents; in particular, residents feel very strongly about S. 1087/H.R. 1581 – The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011.  Thank you for your continual work in regards to providing more public access and multiple use opportunities on public lands and in particular for co-sponsoring this bill as well as sponsoring S. 1554, prohibiting the establishment of national monuments without the express authorization of Congress. 

43 million acres of land have been locked up for decades even though these very acres were analyzed and determined NOT to be suitable for wilderness designation.  It is inconceivable that this refusal to release lands has gone on for so long and it is shameful that special interest groups have dictated public policy regarding public lands to such a drastic extent.  These two bills must be passed as they seek to return 43 million acres of public land back to the public.  Furthermore, these released 43 million acres must be released back to the designation they were before the wilderness study area designation. 

On a broader note, the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board is quite concerned with the non-productivity of public land in general; we are addressing such, along with the Moapa Valley Chamber of Commerce, in a resolution which you will receive in the near future.  Decades ago, enterprising residents had the opportunity to develop a resource or a skill and turn that into a job that would support their family.  Today the burdensome nature of modern governmental bureaucracy is akin to walking on glue; after a few steps, you are so helplessly bogged down that giving up and quitting seems the only option.  We applaud your efforts, as well as that of the other Congressmen and Senators that created the Jobs Frontier Report.  We strongly support this report and the work being done to bring jobs back to the west and in particular, to the rural west.  We look forward to following this process, supporting real change that creates jobs, and actively helping in any way we can.  Thank you for your work to date on the economic issues that overshadow our lives.

Please support the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011; thank you for all you have done and are doing on our behalf

Dear Congressman Heck,

Thank you for the multiple times you have visited Moapa Valley, informed us of upcoming issues, and requested our opinions and concerns regarding such.  We deeply appreciate the time you and your staff have spent learning the concerns and thoughts of rural residents.  

As such, we respectfully submit the following for your use and request that you vote accordingly on the following public land issues/bills:
  1. Secretary Salazar’s letter to Members of Congress requesting identification of lands that may be appropriate candidates for congressional protection under the Wilderness Act:  

The Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board does not support wilderness designation of any kind and strongly requests that you forward no recommendations to the Secretary; we further request that your comments to the Secretary note that Clark County was involved in a thorough public lands bill in 2002.  It was our understanding, at that time, that this wilderness issue was over in our county.  Although our community felt that entirely too much land was designated as wilderness, we felt we could live with that—given that bill was the last public lands designation bill.  To our utmost sorrow, that is not the case as more wilderness in Clark County is proposed almost yearly.  IF Secretary Salazar feels that he must re-address the wilderness issue in our county, we request:
  1. Not one additional acre of wilderness be designated as the BLM does not recognize any lands in northeast Clark County as having wilderness characteristics,
  2. That the top of Virgin Mountain WSA be released back to the previous land designation as this area has been extensively used by humans for over 100 years and this land does not contain wilderness characteristics, per the BLM’s own documentation,
  3. That the Million Hills WSA be released back to its pre-WSA designation; this area is rich in minerals and therefore this area should be studied for possible mineral extraction which would benefit the local economies and our nation; additionally, the Million Hills WSA never contained wilderness qualities and as such should be released,
  4. The boundary to the Arrow Canyon Wilderness Area needs to be adjusted to the south side of the wash, at the very least.  The boundary is now in the middle of the wash which is confusing to everyone.  Also, this wash floods all the time; it is the main drainage that the Pahranagat and Double Wash drain into; since it floods all the time, the wash itself contains no wilderness qualities.  
  1. S. 407/H.R. 758 – National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act:

The Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board respectfully requests that you support these bills and this concept:  that Congress and only Congress can establish monuments; designating monuments is an unchecked presidential power which should be restored to Congress.  We further request that the state legislature and governor of the state wherein a monument is proposed must also approve of such designation before it can happen.  States must have a say in how public land is managed; the federal government is too far removed from those living next to such lands and the states must be involved in this process.  
  1. S. 1473/H.R. 2745 – Mesquite Land Act:

The Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board recognizes that the City of Mesquite needs an amendment to clarify several minor issues relating to the period of time that they can purchase land and relating to their Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Plan and the Hydrologic Monitoring and Mitigation Plan; we therefore request that you support such bills AS LONG AS these bills or any other introduced bill or amendment does not contain language designating any portion of the Gold Butte complex as an NCA, monument, or wilderness.  Any such attempt to pass legislation regarding Gold Butte designation is strongly opposed by the Moapa Valley Town Advisory Board; such opposition is consistent with our previous positions in 2008, 2009, and 2010.   

If you have any questions or wish to discuss the above issues in more detail, please know that you are welcome at our town board meetings and in our community any time.  We deeply appreciate your diligence to our concerns and the work that you do on our behalf in Washington D.C.  Thank you,