U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) and Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV) today introduced the Pine Forest Recreation Enhancement Act -- the product of a comprehensive two-year local process. Local landowners, sportsmen, conservationists, and other stakeholders in Humboldt County came together to develop this proposal through a series of public meetings and presented it to the delegation with broad community support. The Nevada State Legislature and the Secretary of the Interior have praised the robust and inclusive local process used to produce this bill as the gold standard for community-based wilderness proposals.
This bill would designate 26,000 acres within the Blue Lakes and Alder Creek Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) as the Pine Forest Range Wilderness Area and release 1,500 acres of the existing WSA lands. The bill would also direct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to exchange federal lands surrounding nearby ranches for private parcels within the existing WSAs to allow for more appropriate management of public lands and ensure the economic viability of privately owned ranches.
"Stewardship and preservation of our public lands must be a priority for all Nevadans," Senator Reid said. "We must ensure that our state's naturally pristine lands are protected, and this legislation will preserve thousands of acres of Nevada's public lands for sportsmen and conservationists alike. I applaud the Humboldt County Commission and the Pine Forest Working Group on their efforts to bring forward this locally-supported wilderness proposal."
"The Pine Forest Range is a popular destination for sportsmen and recreationists alike, and this legislation will result in enhanced recreation opportunities and better land management," Senator Heller said. "In a state where the federal government controls more than 85% of the land, changes to public land designations must be done in a careful and open manner that brings local communities and stakeholders to the table. I am pleased to support this bill and offer it as an example of how public land designations should be handled."
"Our bill will protect one of Nevada's unique natural landscapes, while also ensuring that hikers, sportsmen and other visitors can continue to enjoy a variety of recreational activities," Congresswoman Berkley said. "Support for this bipartisan legislation has come from local communities, elected officials and conservationists who have all joined together to call for protection of these beautiful open spaces in the Silver State."
"This bill is smart legislation that is the result of hard work by local Nevadans," Congressman Heck said. "Rather than risking a plan developed and managed by bureaucrats in Washington, folks in Humboldt County took action and created a detailed management plan that works for them and helps protect Nevada's environment. I urge the Department of Interior to look at the development of this legislation as a model for preserving America's resources."
"It's important to recognize that the Pine Forest Wilderness Act is a community-driven plan that represents the consensus of Humboldt County stakeholders on how to preserve this pristine wilderness while protecting and enhancing its historic uses," Congressman Amodei said. "This model approach demonstrates that common sense solutions to our public land designations are possible when Nevadans have a seat at the table."