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Ranchers pay fees to graze their cattle on public land in Nevada; tourists and residents enjoy camping, hiking, and hunting on those lands.
Public land is also a thorny issue in Nevada because so much of the state is owned by the federal government.
The Bundy Ranch armed standoff in 2014, as well as the ongoing debate about Gold Butte National Monument, underscore the gravity of these issues.
At the same time, there is real concern that public lands aren’t shared equally by all Americans.
Jocelyn Torres is Nevada Program Director for the Conservation Lands Foundation and a member of the Next 100 Coalition. The Coalition is hosting its annual summit Friday and Saturday at Springs Preserve.
Torres said the main goal of the summit is to bring diversity, inclusion, and equity to the discussion about public lands.
She said the Department of the Interior, which oversees public lands, is distancing itself from the importance of diversity in the discussion.
Torres says the lack of involvement by people of color in public lands issues happens at several levels, including who is hired by government agencies that oversee federal property, who can access public land, why there are barriers for some people, what lands are protected and how are they managed.
“Here in Las Vegas, we have a huge population of Latino, African American, Asian American, Native American communities and if they’re not being engaged in what lands we’re protecting and how we’re managing them once they’re protected then we’re missing a huge piece of the population,” she said.
Torres said if people of color aren't engaged in the management of public lands then there will be less support for conservation efforts.
Jocelyn Torres, Nevada Program Director, Conservation Lands Foundation/member of the Next 100 Coalition.
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