CARSON CITY, NV (KXNT) – President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would sweep away money for a fund used to acquire lands for conservation and recreation, drawing fire from several members of the Nevada delegation in Congress.
Both of Nevada’s U.S. Senators are joining conservation groups to fight a provision in President Donald Trump’s new 2019 budge proposal that would drain 230 million dollars from a fund that helps acquire new lands for public benefit. The budget would clear out any unspent funds in the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act’s special account at the Department of the Interior. The fund was set up in 1998, a compromise to set aside money for conservation by selling some public lands to developers in the Las Vegas area. David von Seggern, with the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter, said the Trump administration shouldn’t double cross the people of Nevada.
“And that money was a promise to Nevada citizens, so any attempt to take away those funds, I think, is not only wrong but it may be illegal,” said Von Seggern.
Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Dean Heller, as well as Representative Dina Titus have criticized this move to redirect 230 million dollars to Department of the Interior’s general fund. The budget calls for an overall cut to Interior’s budget of 14 percent. President Trump defends the budget proposal, saying cuts to domestic spending are necessary to better fund defense and national security.
Von Seggern noted that the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act has been used to expand Red Rock National Conservation Area and many other projects in every county across the state.
“This mitigation fund provides money for us to acquire lands for public use, for restoration projects, for various recreation projects. In a way, the growth of Las Vegas has given many benefits to Nevada through this fund,” Von Seggern added.
Other projects funded with that money include Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas and a project to put in a fire break at Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, removing vegetation so firefighters could protect nearby homes. The president’s budget proposal now serves as a starting point for Congress to hammer out an actual budget for fiscal year 2019.