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Washington, D.C. Ė U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) sent a letter to Department of Interior Secretary (DOI) Ryan Zinke expressing his opposition to the Administrationís budget proposal, which would eliminate $230 million from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Actís (SNPLMA) account. Enacted in 1998, SNPLMA is a program that allows the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell public land within a specific boundary around Las Vegas, Nevada, and the revenue it generates is obligated for important projects in Nevada. Eliminating this program would disrupt economic growth and conservation efforts across the state of Nevada as well as agreements previously made to local communities and tribal governments.
The letter reads in full:
Dear Secretary Zinke,
I write to express my strong opposition to the proposed rescissions of $230 million from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act special account at the Department of the Interior, established under Public Law 105-263, laid out in a document provided to Congressional Appropriators by the Administration in preparation for the Fiscal Year 2017 budget negotiations.† These resources are obligated for important wildlife restoration, conservation, outdoor recreation, and infrastructure development projects in the State of Nevada, and are an important component of carefully negotiated public land legislation enacted by the Nevada Congressional Delegation over the past two decades.† I respectfully request you eliminate these proposed rescissions from budget request or negotiation.†
The Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) became law in October 1998, and allows the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell public land within a specific boundary around Las Vegas, Nevada. The revenue derived from those sales is split between the State of Nevada General Education Fund (5%), the Southern Nevada Water Authority (10%), a government agency tasked with the regional water management, and a special account available to the Secretary of the Interior for public works projects, ecological restoration, and conservation efforts.† It is one of the Departmentís most successful programs, authorizing land sales that played an integral role in the Las Vegas regionís growth into one of the largest metropolitan areas in the west, while investing over $3.4 billion in over 1200 conservation projects that would otherwise require significant Congressional appropriations or would not occur at all. ††
Not only would a rescission usurp important economic growth and conservation initiatives, it would undermine important agreements that local communities, tribal governments, and the federal government formed in good faith. Rather than improve trust with local governments, facilitate additional outdoor recreation, and empower grassroots driven conservation, goals youíve told me personally are among your top priorities as Secretary, this action would hamper any efforts to achieve a working, trustful relationship between your department and Nevadaís local government officials
Keeping the SMPLMA program intact will help spur economic development in the private sector and provide the necessary resources for conservation and habitat restoration and to reduce the risk of wildfires.† I respectfully request that you reconsider the