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City backs monument designation

Boulder City is backing a proposed national monument in a part of the Mojave Desert that borders the town.

Avi Kwa Ame means spirit mountain in Mojave, and the proposed national monument encompasses approximately 383,000 acres of public land in southern Clark County. At its March 23 meeting, City Council unanimously approved a resolution expressing support for the project.

“It borders Boulder City city limits and it follows the west side of U.S. (Highway) 95 down to about Searchlight,” said Alan O’Neill during the meeting. “At Searchlight, it includes both sides of 95.”

O’Neill is an adviser to the National Parks Conservation Association and a former superintendent for the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The proposed monument would protect an ecosystem in part of the eastern Mojave Desert as well as connect Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the Mojave National Preserve, Castle Mountains National Monument, Mojave Trails National Monument and Dead Mountain Wilderness Area in California. It would also create a habitat to promote the survival, growth, reproduction and maintenance of different types of desert plants.

“We think this a good thing for Boulder City, sandwiching this monument between Lake Mead and such is a strong economic benefit … to the community,” said O’Neill.

Councilman James Howard Adams said he believed the project supports “Boulder City’s long-standing ideals of preserving the surrounding desert landscape and protecting it from wanton development.”

“The boundaries provided by the Avi Kwa Ame national monument would protect far more than just its pristine landscape,” he said. “It would serve as a refuge for the incredible flora and fauna found in the region and help preserve the numerous important cultural artifacts and elements, many of which are considered to be profoundly sacred.”

O’Neill said the area has been the target of attempted energy development by two companies that wanted to install wind farms. According to his presentation, these industrial developments would have scarred the land and degraded the cultural resources there.

“The monument would protect it (the land) from any future industrial development,” he said.

O’Neill said parts of the area are being used for recreation and that access will remain even if it becomes a national monument.

“The existing rights to the land will be protected,” he said.

“I think this is marvelous. … Hopefully this will continue to remain pristine,” said Councilwoman Claudia Bridges.

The area is considered sacred by the Yuman speaking tribes that include the Mojave, Hualapai, Yavapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Maricopa, Pai Pai, Halchidhoma, Cocopah and Kumeyaay.

There is no timeline yet for the designation.