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Are Nevada's National Monuments Going To Change?

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Basin and Range National Monument

The report is in, but Nevadans are still in the dark about what’s going to happen with national monuments thought to be targeted by the Trump Administration.

Ryan Zinke, secretary of the interior, visited two national monuments in Nevada, Gold Butte and Basin and Range, during a 120-day review mandated by one of Trump's executive orders in April. Zinke reportedly submitted the results of his review to the president but provided no details to the public.

"The people who are in favor of the national monuments really believe that they're worth protecting because of the ancient rock art that's there, the fragile plant and animal species, the wildlife, the landscapes," said Heidi Kyser, staff writer for Desert Companion magazine, which is published by Nevada Public Radio.

Kyser wrote an in-depth story of Nevada’s monuments, “Voices of the Land,” for the September issue of the magazine. She explained that national monuments advocates focus on preservation, especially for some of the ancient Native American sites. A cultural artifacts expert at UNLV that Kyser toured Basin and Range with compared ranchers allowing cattle to graze among ancient petroglyphs with his kenneling his dogs at the Louvre in Paris.

Opponents of national monuments don't necessarily want to see the protections eliminated, just changed.

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"They still want to be able to get there to do their ranching, ride their ATVs, go out and visit areas that they've traditionally visited with their families for recreation," Kyser said, "and they don't like the idea of access being cut off."

She pointed out that many ranchers in the area, including a member of the Lincoln County Commission, don't like federal regulations that restrict where cattle can be run, because they they feel they need the flexibility to move their herds according to conditions.

The Associated Press reported Zinke as saying that no monument designations would be rescinded, but that a handful might be modified. The Washington Post and the New York Times both reported that national monuments in Utah were the ones that Zinke would recommend scaling back. The fate of Nevada's monuments is unknown. 

 

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Heidi Kyser, reporter, Desert Companion magazine

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