Senate Approved $25 Million For State Projects

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A Senate panel has approved about $25 million for Nevada projects, including $1 million to help the Bureau of Land Management prepare for land auctions near the new Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area.

The Sloan Canyon money could pay contractors to do required environmental studies before the BLM can release the land for auction, BLM spokesman Philip Guerrero said.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., arranged the funding as part of a 2004 Interior Department spending bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, Reid aide Tessa Hafen said Friday.

The measure passed by the committee on Thursday would set aside $16.55 million to control erosion, buy land, improve trails and restore watershed at Lake Tahoe.

It includes $3.7 million for a youth treatment center at Pyramid Lake; $1.5 million for a California Trail Interpretive Center in Wells; and $1.5 million for a biodiversity study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.

Another $500,000 would be set aside for Lahontan Cutthroat Trout restoration, and $500,000 would pay for the U.S. Geological Survey to do a Clark County mineral inventory.

Hafen said a Senate vote on the spending plan could come this fall.

Congress last year passed legislation redrawing the public land map of Clark County, designating 440,000 acres as protected wilderness and freeing 233,000 acres for development or other uses.

A June auction of 1,010 acres of BLM land around Las Vegas resulted in $232.3 million in sales.

At Sloan Canyon, BLM plans in November to auction 500 acres between next to the conservation area and a housing development in east Henderson. The property is expected to fetch at least $45 million, Guerrero said.

Ninety-five percent of sale proceeds will go to protect Sloan Canyon, a site with Indian rock art and petroglyphs.

The BLM also is expected to allocate some of the money to carry out a transfer of 2,880 acres of land to the county for a shooting range 10 miles north of Las Vegas.