The push continues to get Avi Kwa’ Ame, or Spirit Mountain, which is sacred land, designated as a national monument.
One reason why is to prevent certain development on the land.
“For about 15 years our town has been fighting large industrial wind energy projects that have been proposed in our area,” said Kim Garrison Means, an advocate for the designation.
One energy proposal came over the last few months.
Eolus Vind AB, a Swedish wind power developer, pitching the Kulning Wind project.
Garrison Means, who lives in Searchlight, right near the land, is opposed.
“We have visitors that come to the wilderness area, and now they would see these giant monstrosities, filling up the landscape as part of their visit,” she said.
So, what could a national monument designation do?
“All of our access to our roads would stay the same, or off-highway vehicle use our camping hunting, you know, hiking, just enjoying the lands,” said Garrison Means. “And so that stays the same. At the same time, we get some new federal funds to help us manage it.”
Alan O’Neill, adviser for the National Parks Conservation Association, argues development projects on the sacred land would not benefit local residents.
“The wind project is not long-term boost to the economy, it’s a short-term and reasonably minimal,” he said.
In a statement from Eolus North America, the director of business development and governmental affairs said:
“A project of this size would create hundreds of local, in-state, construction jobs, dozens of long-term, high-wage jobs, and bring significant economic development to the surrounding communities.”
Further stating: “The energy from the project will be delivered to the Nevada grid, and further along in the development process, finding Nevada customers for the power will be a high priority.”
Advocates wanting national monument designation say they are not convinced and say protecting Avi Kwa’ Ame’s land for the 12 native tribes in the area and for recreational use is better for Nevadans.
“The outdoor recreation industry in the state of Nevada is huge, you know. It’s, it’s a third leading employer at 87,000 jobs,” said O’Neill. “We wanted this to be a standalone piece of legislation and I think the conservation community supports that route.”
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