Every so often, I can hear Woody Guthrie singing when I travel to and through the wide open expanses of Nevada (that is, when I’m not hearing “Wide Open Spaces”, one of my favorite Dixie Chicks songs). This land is your land. This land is my land. This land was made for you & me.
When did we lose track of this very American dream? When did “this land is made for you & me” become “controversial”?
Ever since Cliven Bundy launched his “Range War” against the rule of law, his extreme “TEA Party” allies have been trying to “shift the Overton Window” and make the concept of public lands seem “controversial”. Bundy’s buddies in the Nevada Legislature are pushing SJR 1 to demand the federal government transfer wide swaths of federal public land to the State of Nevada so the state can turn the land over to developers and other commercial interests. And US Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) vows to “fight tooth and nail” any attempt by US Senator Harry Reid (D) to secure federal protection for Gold Butte.
Yet when Senator Reid and US Rep. Dina Titus (D-Paradise) held a joint community meeting on the state of Nevada’s public lands, the crowd gathered at the Lloyd George Federal Building in Downtown Las Vegas expressed overwhelming support for preserving Gold Butte, Tule Springs, and Garden Valley (in Lincoln County).
Mesquite community leaders, such as Former City Council Member Karl Gustaveson and current Virgin Valley Water District Board Member Sandra Ramaker, spoke in favor of creating a National Conservation Area (NCA) for Gold Butte. So did the Nevada Resort Association’s Virginia Valentine. So did Sean Fellows on behalf of Sig Rogich and Rogich Communications. So did local business leader & philanthropist Jenna Morton. So did the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA). And so did Paiute Nation tribal leaders. And so did many more Southern Nevadans.
Democrats, Nonpartisans, and Republicans all stated their support for federal protection for Nevada’s environmental treasures at Lloyd George yesterday. Educators, students, art lovers, history buffs, health care professionals, business executives, sportsmen, hikers, and others from all walks of life professed their love for Nevada’s natural wonders… And their desire to keep these wonders public and preserved.
Really, the only opposition came from someone who was referring to himself as “John Q. Public”. He spoke of Harry Reid’s “BLM goons”, being forced into “gay marriage”, “abortion on demand”, “environmental junk science”, “domestic terrorists”, and the kind of material one typically hears from the “black helicopter” crowd.
I had heard from several folks at Grant Sawyer who were concerned about Bundy supporters causing a scene at the event. But in the end, only “John Q. Public” rose to make his nonsensical rant before making a dramatic (yet peaceful) exit.
So why are Cresent Hardy and several Republican state legislators behaving as if most Nevadans agree with the Bundy Bunch and “John Q. Public”? Why are they claiming they have some sort of mandate to privatize these critical public resources?
This land is your land. This land is my land. This land is all our land. Nevada was made for you and me.
This post first published on Let’s Talk Nevada by Andrew Davy.