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Fossil Monument Bill Might Grow

Written By:

Steve Tetreault

Tule Springs

A stalled bill in Congress to create a public land monument in Clark County while reconfiguring other government parcels in the Las Vegas Valley might start moving again. What’s more, an influential House chairman says he would be open to expanding it.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said he has asked his staff to redraft portions of a bill creating the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. He said he was hopeful that rewording will fix a flaw that caused the bill to be shelved in February.

The bill was withdrawn by Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., after Bishop, chairman of the subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation, said that a 660-acre land conveyance to Las Vegas and a 645-acre transfer to North Las Vegas in the bill could be considered “earmarks” banned under House rules.

“That’s something I want to push when I get back” to the Capitol from Easter recess, Bishop said in an interview Thursday. Lawmakers return this week.

In March, Bishop hiked through Tule Springs, where conservationists and Southern Nevada leaders want to set aside 22,650 acres prized for a wealth of fossils valued by scientists for study and by business interests as a lure for tourists. He was guided by Horsford, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, former congressman-turned-lobbyist Jon Porter, and Kristin McMillan, president of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Bishop said he came away from the visit thinking the Nevadans may have undersold themselves. He said he would be open to shifting even more federal property into local hands.

“You have a whole lot of BLM land within the city boundaries of North Las Vegas,” he said. “That’s ridiculous. There’s no reason the BLM should have property within an urban setting.”

Bishop said work on the bill became more complicated when Horsford departed the Natural Resources Committee last month for the Financial Services Committee, “so we don’t have the direct contact that would have been there. But I still made a commitment. I want to move it forward and get it done as soon as we possibly can.”


Las Vegas Review-Journal