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Southern Nevada leaders call on feds to protect Nevada's Ash Meadows from mining

Amargosa River
Bob Wick
Bureau of Land Management
Amargosa River

Southern Nevada’s federal delegation are calling on the federal government to prohibit mining on public land in the fragile Amargosa River watershed, an effort pushed by locals in the area for months.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto sent a letter to federal land managers on Tuesday, Nevada Current reports, urging the Department of the Interior to implement a 20-year ban on new mining operations on public land surrounding the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge — a critical wetland habitat that supports a dozen endangered and threatened species.

Sen. Jacky Rosen and Reps. Dina Titus, Steven Horsford, and Susie Lee also signed the letter.

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Supporters of the 20-year ban say a federal withdrawal would not dissolve previous mining claims, but it would greatly reduce mining companies’ interest in developing the area.

The request comes after Rover Critical Minerals announced a new plan last year to drill as many as 21 boreholes less than a mile from the refuge — at depths of up to 150 feet — in search of valuable lithium deposits.

The proposal included plans to drill within a few thousand feet of Fairbanks Spring, a critical habitat for the endangered Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish and the Ash Meadows speckled dace.

Briana Joseph is the afternoon and weekend announcer at Nevada Public Radio. She hosts during national syndication from NPR. You’ll hear her voice during All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.