Keep Public Lands in Public Hands

BitterRidgeSouth_LWC_kkuznicki_7101.jpgAmerica’s 640 million acres of federal public lands are the backbone of our rich outdoor heritage. However, some extremist politicians would like to sell off YOUR public lands to the highest bidder and close off access forever. Please join us in the continued fight to keep public lands in public hands. Continue reading for more information on recent public land victories in the Nevada State Legislature and in Congress to #KeepItPublic.




Learn more about public lands here in Nevada with this Public Lands Brochure

Pro Public Lands Legislation in the Nevada State Legislature

Senate Bill 413

Update: PASSED!

Nevada State Senator Nicole Cannizzaro and thirteen co-sponsors introduced SB413 in the Nevada State Legislature on March 20th. SB413, signed by Governor Sandoval on June 1st, will establish the last Saturday in September of each year as “Public Lands Day” in the State of Nevada. The bill specifically mentions that Nevadans do not want our public lands to be transferred to state control. An official Public Lands Day will serve as an annual reminder to our elected officials that Nevadans value our public lands and want to keep them public! We hope you join us this September in celebrating the first ever Public Lands Day in Nevada!

Read the full text of the bill here.


SUPPORT: Senate Joint Resolution 12

Update: PASSED!

Senate Joint Resolution 12 passed the Nevada State Legislature in May of 2017. This resolution expresses support for the retention of federal management and control of federal public lands in this State and also rescinds Senate Joint Resolution 1 which passed in the 78th Session of the Nevada Legislature (2015). Senate Joint Resolution 1 was a resolution that urged Congress to transfer management of public lands in Nevada to state control and passed on an extremely thin margin and on pure party lines. Read the bill text here.



SUPPORT: Assembly Joint Resolution 13

Update: PASSED!

Assembly Joint Resolution 13, introduced by Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, expresses the support of the Nevada State Legislature for the enactment and use of the Antiquities Act and the designation of Basin and Range National Monument and Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada. AJR13 passed in the Nevada State Legislature in May of 2017. This resolution serves as an official document that Nevadans support the use of the Antiquities Act and wants to keep our National Monuments in Nevada protected. This is especially useful if our National Monuments ever came under attack - such as a threat of repeal (see below). Read the full text here.



Current Anti-Public Lands Legislation in the Nevada State Legislature

OPPOSE: Senate Joint Resolution 7

Update: Died in Committee

Several misguided Nevada state legislators have introduced Senate Joint Resolution 7, a resolution calling on Congress to enact legislation to transfer the title of certain public lands in Nevada to state (and private) control. The state of Nevada just doesn't have the budget to manage the breadth of our public lands and would surely have to sell off public lands to make ends meet. Public lands are where Nevadans and all Americans go to enjoy wide open spaces and outdoor recreation like hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, and riding ATV's. Once our public lands are sold, they'll be lost forever - shutting off access to our favorite outdoor destinations. Scroll further down to learn more about the public lands issue, what's at stake, and why we cannot allow a blanket transfer of public lands to state control. 

Read the resolution text here.


OPPOSE: Assembly Joint Resolution 12

Update: Died in Committee

Assemblyman Chris Edwards introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 12 in the State Legislature that would, if passed, officially urge Congress to abolish the newly designated Gold Butte National Monument. Gold Butte National Monument, designated by President Obama on December 28, 2016, covers nearly 300,000 acres of remote and rugged desert landscape in southeastern Nevada, where dramatically chiseled red sandstone, twisting canyons, and tree-clad mountains punctuate desolate stretches of the Mojave Desert. Nevadans have worked to protect this culturally rich landscape since the late 1990's. Since then, hundreds of activists in Nevada joined by local businesses, Native American tribes, legislators, and city officials have strongly advocated for permanent protection of Gold Butte. Protected landscapes where we hunt, fish, camp and hike are part of what makes America great. But AJR12 by Assemblyman Edwards that wishes to undo Gold Butte National Monument puts cherished public lands, like Gold Butte, at risk. Read the resolution text here. 


OPPOSE: Senate Joint Resolution 15 

Update: Died in Committee

Senate Joint Resolution 15 urged Congress to enact federal legislation relating to national monuments. SJR15 would give additional fodder for certain elected officials in Congress to continue pushing anti-national monument legislation like Congressman Amodei's bill H.R. 243 and Senator Heller's bill S. 22 (read more about these bills below.) Read the full text of SJR15 here.


Current Anti-Public Lands Legislation in Congress

OPPOSE: H.R. 243 & S. 22 - Abolish the Antiquities Act

Senator Heller and Congressman Amodei introduced S.22 and H.R.243 in Congress in January of 2017. These bills seek to dismantle the Antiquities Act and prevent its usage here in Nevada. Signed into law by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, the Antiquities Act has since been used by 16 presidents (8 Republicans and 8 Democrats) to create more than 140 national monuments. Here in Nevada, the Antiquities Act has been used to protect Great Basin National Park (President Hardy in 1922), Basin and Range National Monument (President Obama in 2016), and Gold Butte National Monument (President Obama in 2016). These places are an irreplaceable and integral part of our country’s heritage and were initially protected using Antiquities Act authority. Senator Heller and Congressman Amodei misguided bills are a deliberate attempt to undermine the president’s ability to use the Antiquities Act and are out of line with American conservation values.


Contact Congressman Amodei and Senator Heller and let them know that you support the Antiquities Act and its usage in Nevada and that you respectfully register your opposition to their bills.

  • Congressman Amodei: (202) 225-6155
  • Senator Heller: (202) 224-6244

OPPOSE: HR 1484 - Seize Public Lands to State Control

In 2016, Congressman Amodei introduced HR 1484 which includes SJR 1 language. The bill will direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to convey certain Federal lands to the State of Nevada in fulfillment of the Nevada Statehood Enabling Act, and for other purposes. Read the text by clicking here. Fortunately the bill did not move in Congress last year and - because of your activism - Congressman Amodei stated earlier this year that he would not reintroduce HR1484 in its current form. Although we have accomplished many victories for Nevada's public lands, we need to remain vigilant and make our voices heard on this issue so our elected officials know that Nevadans want to keep it public!


1. Call Congressman Amodei's Office: (202) 225-6155

Script: “I am calling as your constituent to register my opposition to any public land transfers or sales to state control and private interests. I am a Nevadan who (hikes/camps/backpacks/you choose) and values the great amount of public lands we have here in Nevada. I respectfully oppose your efforts to divest public lands to state and private control.”

2. Tweet to Congressman Amodei: Twitter is an easy but direct way to engage with your elected official. Create your own and use the following handles and hashtags:

Twitter handle: @MarkAmodeiNV2
Hashtag: #KeepitPublicNV

Or use these pre-drafted tweets!

I support keeping public lands in public hands! I oppose any public land transfer or sale! @MarkAmodeiNV2 #KeepitPublicNV

Public lands are our greatest heritage and should remain public! Say NO to #publicland transfers @MarkAmodeiNV2 #publiclandsproud

3. Write a Letter to the Editor: The Letter to the Editor is one of the most powerful tools we have for communicating with decision makers, the media, and the general public. Be personal. Facts are good, but only when we understand why they matter. Describe who you are and why you care about public lands - do you like to backpack, hunt, mountain bike, camp? How would the loss of public lands affect you? These details make a deeper impact on our readers than we give them credit for!

Reno Gazette Journal: Email a letter of 160 words or less to [email protected]. Include your full name and the town you live in — these will be published. Also include your address and phone number for verification purposes only.
Reno News & Review: 200 words of less - you can also submit your letter by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does changing ownership of the Nevada land from federal to state impact our public lands?

Currently, the federal government loses nearly $100 million dollars per year on average managing public land in Nevada. This is a cost that our state government is in no position to bear. A likely result would be the massive sell off of our public lands into private hands, cutting off access, and allowing some of our best places to be developed. 

Nevada has a history of selling state lands into private control. Even if the state were to keep the lands in the state portfolio, access and uses would be restricted, similar to the way that access and use is restricted on the 3,000 of state trust lands that the state currently owns. Many Western states have very limited uses of their state lands and many states charge access to outdoor recreation users.

Economic Impact of Public Lands

People love public lands and they will travel, spend money, and relocate to areas that are in proximity to public lands, especially protected public lands. Below is a list of recently published reports and studies that have sought to quantify this impact.   

  • In January 2016, for the sixth year in a row, the State of the Rockies Project, in conjunction with Lori Weigel, Public Opinion Strategies and Dave Metz, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, released the Conservation in the West Poll. The survey, conducted in seven western states, explored bi-partisan opinions in each state and for the six-state region concerning conservation, environment, energy, the role of government, trade-offs with economies, and citizen priorities. This year the survey broke new ground by polling in the state of Nevada for the first time in the poll's six-year history. 
    • Polling results in Nevada revealed that 72% of voters believe that public lands benefit our economy; 73% of GOP voters, 78% of independent voters, and 80% percent of Democrat voters believe conservation is important in candidate selection; 52% of Nevadans oppose state takeover of public lands, with only 39% of Nevadans strongly supporting the idea.
  • In April 2016, the Pew Charitable Trusts published a study titled "Quiet Recreation on Public Lands: Economic Contribution 2014.
    • The study summarized the economic impact of non-motorized outdoor activities on BLM-managed land across the U.S. In Nevada alone, there were 3.9 million visits to BLM lands in 2014 generating $168 million in direct spending, $172 million in overall spending, and over 1,600 jobs. You can read a summary on the measured impact in Nevada here.
  • In February 2016, Headwaters Economics, a non-profit organization, released a study titled “Federal Lands in the West: Liability or Asset?” finding that rural counties in the West with more federal lands or protected federal lands performed better on average than their peers with less federal lands or protected federal lands in four key economic measures: population, employment, personal income and per capita income. 
    • From 1970-2014, western rural counties with the highest share of federal lands on average had faster population, employment, personal income, and per capita income growth than their peers with the lowest share of federal lands.
    • Similarly, from 1970-2014, counties with the highest share of protected federal lands on average performed better for population, employment, personal income, and per capita income growth than those with the least protected federal lands.
    • Some rural counties are struggling and are searching for ways to benefit from nearby federal lands. While every county has unique circumstances, the changing economy of the West has impacted all counties and altered the role and importance of nearby public lands
  • In March 2015, the Center for Western Priorities produced a report titled “The Golden Rush: How Public Lands Draw Retirees and Create Economic Growth.”
    • The study concluded that retirees are three times more likely to move to Western counties with protected lands. The report describes the multiplier effect that new retirees have on the economy and how new jobs are created in many industry sectors including health services, construction, housing, banking, restaurants, and entertainment. 
  • February 2013, the Outdoor Industry Association released a report that calculated the economic impact of outdoor recreation in the United States in 2012. You can read the study on this link:
    • In Nevada alone, outdoor recreation generated $14.9 billion in consumer spending, $1 billion in state and local tax revenue, 147,600 jobs were attributed to outdoor recreation generating $4.8 billion in wages and salaries.


Additional Resources

Public Lands, Private Hands? (New York Times, March 3, 2017)

The New Land Grab (Sacramento News & Review, March 2, 2017)

Legislature Prepares for battle over federal ownership of public lands (Las Vegas Review Journal. March 6, 2017)

Backlash to Anti-Public Lands Legislation Grows (February 21, 2017)

The Mining Burden: Why State Land Seizures Could Cost Billions

Debunked: 4 Myths About Public Lands (Wilderness Society,  March 18, 2016)

One View: Transfer of Public Lands to Nevada Still a Bad Idea (Reno Gazette Journal. May 17, 2016)

One View: Nevada Can't Afford to Run Public Lands (Reno Gazette Journal. November 17, 2015)



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