Conservation Watch: Nevada State Legislature 2021

While the vast majority of publicly-owned lands in Nevada are managed by the federal government (the primary focus of Friends of Nevada Wilderness), the State government can also play very important roles in helping to conserve all public lands, state and federal. The Governor and legislators have a strong voice in reinforcing their constituents’ desire to conserve public lands, as they did with these resolutions and this letter opposing military expansions. The State can partner with federal agencies to help stretch public investments in conservation. And the State manages critical wildlife habitat and a number of wonderful public parks that provide accessible and diverse opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Volunteers hold signs of support for public lands at the Nevada State Legislature in April 2016.

The 2021 Legislative session will provide additional opportunities for the State to help conserve our unique landscapes and make them even more welcoming for locals and visitors to get out to enjoy and appreciate.  

Here are some of the initiatives the legislature is expected to take on in the 2021 session starting February 1. Friends will be tracking legislative action and will do our best to keep this page up to date with information on how you can help make good things happen. Please check back often!

Due to the pandemic, the Legislative Building will be closed to the general public for at least several weeks. The Legislative Counsel Bureau has posted this information on how the public can view/listen to meetings and submit oral or written testimony at committee hearings.

Promoting Nevada’s Spectacular Dark Skies

The Milky Way as seen in the Massacre Rim WSA Dark Sky Sanctuary, photo by Kurt Kuznicki.

Senate Bill 52, introduced by the Senate Natural Resources Committee and championed by the Offices of the Lieutenant Governor and Outdoor Recreation, addresses dark sky designations for certain sites in this State. 

If approved, the new state program would complement the Dark Sky designations that are granted by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). Nevada is already home to two IDA Dark Sky Places; Great Basin National Park is a Dark Sky Park, and the Massacre Rim Wilderness Study Area in far northern Washoe County is an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, one of only 14 in the world.

Bill sponsors say the intent of the proposal is to amplify and celebrate the work of the IDA, to educate the public about the value of conserving Nevada’s uniquely dark skies, and to promote stargazing to boost tourism in rural communities. 

Language in SB52 recognizes the wide-ranging value of dark skies, which are prevalent in Nevada, where much of the land in the state is publicly owned:

WHEREAS, Establishing a state-level program for designating dark sky places in Nevada will complement  the International  Dark Sky  Places  Program  and  serve  to  specifically  promote,  preserve, protect  and  enhance  Nevada’s  dark-sky  resources  for their  intrinsic value  and  their  ecological,  astronomical,  cultural, and economic importance; and

WHEREAS, The   program   will   also   raise   awareness   among Nevadans  about  light  pollution  and  encourage  them  to  transition from   unshielded   to   shielded   outdoor   lighting   to   preserve   and enhance dark skies throughout this State; and

WHEREAS, Designation of dark sky places in  Nevada under the program will also attract tourists and other visitors to rural communities near  Nevada’s dark sky assets,  thereby generating increased economic activity for surrounding communities and their small businesses;…

Friends of Nevada Wilderness proudly supports SB52 and encourages our supporters to let their legislators know it’s a good bill and should be passed.  

The Senate Natural Resources Committee meets Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30 pm. Most Committee hearings can be streamed live or watched via YouTube. Public comments can be submitted directly to Committee members by email at [email protected]. The public can also submit opinions here.

Previous hearing: SB52 - Senate Natural Resources - February 16, 2021, 3:30 pm watch here. (21-0 passed)

Individual Committee members may also be contacted by email:

Fabian Donate - Chair

Melanie Scheible – Vice-Chair

Chris Brooks

Pete Goicoechea

Ira Hansen

If SB52 passes the full Senate, it will go to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee which meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 4 pm.

Click here to find out who represents you in the State Senate and Assembly.

Nevadans may submit their opinions on any bill or resolution at any time during the session at this link.


The 30x30 Campaign

Conserving 30% of our nation's land and waters by 2030 will protect cultural sites and increase Nevada's outdoor recreation economy.

The international 30x30 Campaign is a global effort to conserve 30% of the planet’s land and water resources by 2030. On January 27, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order addressing the 30x30 initiative, oil and gas leasing, and renewable energy development.

In order to encourage Nevadans to be part of the Campaign, Assemblywoman Cecelia Gonzalez has requested that a resolution be drafted and adopted by the Nevada Legislature to urge “the President, Congress and certain federal entities to protect 30 percent of lands and waters in Nevada by 2030.” More specific language will be drafted with input from tribal leaders and conservation and sportspersons groups in the state. The text of the resolution is not yet available (as of 2/10). We'll post a link as soon as it is. 

Here are links to additional information about 30x30:

Western Leaders Network

League of Conservation Voters


Other Nevada Conservation Priorities

The Nevada Conservation League (NCL), in consultation with other organizations around the state including Friends, has compiled this list of conservation priorities that the Nevada Conservation Network will focus on in the 2021 session of the Nevada Legislature. 


COVID-19 Update:

The Legislative Building will be closed to the general public for at least several weeks due to the pandemic. Click here for information on how you can remotely participate in the legislative process. 

Complete updates of these bills can be found here


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