Republican Governor Joe Lombardo slammed the “unilateral” action of the Biden administration to designate Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument, referring to the action as a “Washington Knows Best” policy that is a “historic mistake that will cost Nevadans for generations to come.
This morning, the Governor’s office released the following statement in advance of President Biden’s declaration:
“Since I took office, the Biden White House has not consulted with my administration about any of the details of the proposed Avi Kwa Ame national monument which, given the size of the proposal, seems badly out of step. Upon learning that the President was considering unilateral action, I reached out to the White House to raise several concerns, citing the potential for terminal disruption of rare earth mineral mining projects and long-planned, bi-partisan economic development efforts. While I’m still waiting for a response, I’m not surprised. This kind of ‘Washington Knows Best’ policy might win plaudits from unaccountable special interests, but it’s going to cost our state jobs and economic opportunity – all while making land more expensive and more difficult to develop for affordable housing and critical infrastructure projects. The federal confiscation of 506,814 acres of Nevada land is a historic mistake that will cost Nevadans for generations to come.”
Back in September, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited the site and released this statement: “Today, the mountain and the surrounding landscape continue to serve as a place for the Tribes to practice their religion and culture. Spirit Mountain was designated a Traditional Cultural Property on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 in recognition of its religious and cultural importance.”
At that time, Biden added, “There’s so much more that we’re going to do to protect the treasured tribal lands,” Biden said during the White House Tribal Nations Summit in Washington. “I’m committed to protecting this sacred place that’s central to the creation story of so many tribes here today.”
As reported by This is Reno:
After a long legal battle, the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe was able to get Avi Kwa Ame listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places as a traditional cultural property in 1999, but protections for the area from development are still weak.
In recent years the culturally significant area has been threatened by development, including proposed wind farms and growing neighboring towns. But a national monument designation for Avi Kwa Ame would permanently protect nearly 400,000 acres south of Las Vegas from large-scale development.
More than 80% of the land within the proposed monument is already federally protected as critical habitat. However, the designation would connect existing protected landscapes from the East Mojave Desert to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and strengthen protections to the area.
One year ago, Rep. Dina Titus introduced legislation to designate Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument. Today, she expressed her celebration on Twitter:
To the native people who point to Avi Kwa Ame as their spiritual birthplace, and every Nevadan who knows the value of our cherished public lands: Today is for you.
Spirit Mountain will now be protected for future generations.
— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) March 21, 2023
Sens. Jackie Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto have also voiced their support.
“Establishing a new National Monument at Avi Kwa Ame will safeguard an area of cultural importance to Tribal nations that is rich with wildlife and incredible natural beauty,” said Senator Rosen. “I’ve firmly supported the movement to honor Avi Kwa Ame, and this welcome announcement from the President will ensure that this land remains permanently protected in Southern Nevada.”
Avi Kwa Ame is rich with wildlife and beauty, and holds significant cultural importance to Tribal nations.
Today’s designation means this land will be safeguarded for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/SLPS3n8vZn
— Senator Jacky Rosen (@SenJackyRosen) March 21, 2023
“I look forward to celebrating the official designation of Nevada’s next National Monument,” Cortez Masto said in a statement.
President Biden’s designation would make Avi Kwa Ame Nevada’s fourth national monument and add to the 85 percent of land in Nevada that is owned by the federal government.
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