Senate Democrats

Reid, Ensign announce final passage of Interior Appropriations bill


Protect billions of dollars of state’s money and work on wild horse adoption program

Washington, D.C – U.S. Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign secured millions of dollars to improve water systems for Nevada communities and protect natural resources in the state. The two Nevada Senators also succeeded in keeping billions of dollars of the state’s money in Nevada and promoting what they hope will be an innovative way to put wild horses in the hands of caring owners.

The funding and provisions were included in the final version of the Interior Appropriations bill which has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate and now heads to the President for his signature.

“The upkeep and improvement of water systems is a critical issue for every Nevada community,” said Reid, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This bill includes funding to ensure safe drinking water in our small towns and large cities. I am also excited about the projects in this bill that will help strengthen conservation efforts around our state and improve access to our public lands.

“With wildfires still burning in Southern Nevada, the $500,000 for a warning system at Mount Charleston is especially important,” Ensign said. “When fire or other natural catastrophes strike the Spring Mountains, there is a very narrow window of opportunity to evacuate the area and make sure that law enforcement can access it. An emergency warning system will provide a tremendous boost to public safety efforts in those crucial moments.”

In the same bill Reid and Ensign directed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to work with the National Wild Horse Association (NWHA) to initiate work on a pilot program to increase the number of wild horse adoptions in Nevada each year. Nevada is home to more than half of the nation’s 32,000 wild horses roaming on public rangelands.

The program that BLM and NWHA develop will be implemented in Nevada first. Positive results will then be shared with other groups around the country in hopes of developing similar programs in other states. The provision was included in the Interior Appropriations Conference bill.

In a joint statement, the Senators said, “The BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption program has been a deeply troubled program. Proper management of our nation’s wild horses is a complex issue, but we can all agree that increasing adoptions is one of the most important things we can do. We are confident that public-private efforts like the one we are encouraging the BLM to undertake with the NWHA will provide strong results.”

Reid and Ensign were also successful in stopping an attempt to take money from Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (SNPLMA) funding.

In the budget he sent to Congress earlier this year, President Bush proposed to divert over a billion dollars from Clark County federal land sales that Nevada uses for parks and recreation projects, environmental restoration, and high priority land acquisitions in Nevada. While Reid and Ensign previously succeeded in stopping the provision in the Senate version of the bill, an amendment that may have still put the state’s money at risk passed the House of Representatives.

Reid and Ensign stopped that effort which will end any further attempt to take the state’s money this year.

In a joint statement released earlier this week, the Senators said:

“This plan unfairly targeted Nevada and would have taken money that rightfully belongs to our state. The proceeds from SNPLMA land sales are absolutely critical for conservation efforts in Nevada. Fortunately, by working together we were able to get support from both our Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate to stop this unreasonable attempt to take Nevada’s money.”

List of projects:

Mount Charleston Warning System – $500,000

Henderson Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant – $1,000,000
Funding for a plant to recycle wastewater for irrigation of parks, trails, golf courses, and other landscape areas.

Clark County Reclamation District – $650,000
For the design and construction services for an upgraded community wastewater treatment facility in Searchlight.

Douglas County sewer system improvements – $400,000
To replace a main sewage pipeline that recently ruptured.

North Lemmon Valley water infrastructure improvements – $150,000
To provide water service to residents currently using domestic wells.

Carson City, Hobart drinking water system – $50,000
For a water pump that will provide water from Marlette Lake to Carson City and Virginia City

Jarbidge Canyon Road Construction – $3,000,000
The Jarbidge Canyon Road provides the only year-round vehicle access to the town of Jarbidge, NV and is a significant access route to the Jarbidge Wilderness. The existing road is poorly designed and is frequently damaged by high stream flows, resulting in road closures and damaging critical fish habitat. This funding will allow improvement of this important road and fund habitat restoration for the Jarbidge River Bull Trout.

NV Biodiversity Research and Conservation Initiative (UNR) – $1,250,000
NBRRC provides scientific support for conservation efforts for species such as the sage grouse, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and the desert tortoise in Nevada.

Motorized Trail – Paiute Meadows – $450,000
This funding will allow construction of a 15 mile long motorized trail that will allow for public access to the Paiute Meadows area north of the Black Rock Desert – roughly 350,000 acres – which is now inaccessible.

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Restoration – $500,000
This funding will support conservation and recovery projects for the endangered Lahontan Cutthroat trout in the Lake Tahoe basin and the Truckee, Carson and Walker River basins. The Fish and Wildlife service will work with communities, private property owners and others to implement on-the-ground projects.

Walker Lake Working Group – $250,000
For ongoing water negotiations in the Walker Basin