Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he plans to visit one or both of Nevada’s national monuments – currently under review by his department – by the end of July.
Zinke recently recommended shrinking the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, sparking concern that he might do the same for Gold Butte and Basin and Range in Nevada.
Darren Daboda, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians, says the monuments are an important natural and cultural resource that must be preserved.
“It’s a slap in the face to tribes, looking at downsizing these national monuments, for example Bears Ears, because these were all originally traditional ancestral lands of Native Americans,” he states.
The public comment period on the reviews of the national monuments continues until July 9 and Zinke’s recommendations to the president are due on Aug. 24.
So far almost 370,000 people have put in their two cents at regulations.gov.
The Las Vegas Band of Paiutes invited Zinke to visit Gold Butte a few weeks ago but did not hear back. On Monday he promised to consult with all stakeholders, including the tribes.
Daboda says the threat to public lands is an issue that shouldn’t be ignored.
“To us, those two areas were traditionally on our reservation when we were first federally recognized in 1873,” he states. “And to us it’s always been tied to our culture and to our history and to our oral stories and our songs that we still sing today.”
Zinke made the comments at an event in Pahrump to announce this year’s annual payments in lieu of taxes given to Lincoln and Nye counties, which have a large percentage of federal land.
He also announced a multi-state collaboration to stop the spread of invasive mussels.
On Sunday he attended a private event with a group funded by the Koch brothers in Incline Village that was closed to the press.
By Suzanne Potter
Public News Service – NV