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Cortez Masto Calls for the Passage of Critical Northern Nevada Lands Bills

Statement

Date: Nov. 18, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

During this week's Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining hearing, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) delivered opening remarks in support of two Northern Nevada lands bills - the Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act and the Elko National Cemetery Act. The Senator previously introduced both of these bills as standalone legislation, and asked for the Committee's approval for further consideration before the full Senate.

"As this committee well knows, the State of Nevada has a proud and long history of coming together in a bipartisan fashion on legislation pertaining to land management. I am grateful for the community-led advocacy and support we've earned from the people of Nevada on these two bills," said the Senator. "The Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act is a bipartisan bill that primarily aims to resolve a number of public land management issues in Pershing County, Nevada, while preserving and protecting 136,000 acres of land in seven new wilderness areas in some of the most remote and beautiful parts of Nevada. In Pershing County, 75 percent of the land is federally owned and this bill particularly reflects compromise and collaboration among a diverse group of stakeholders."

The Senator also discussed a second bill, the Elko National Cemetery Act, which would authorize an interagency transfer of 15 acres from the BLM to the Department of Veterans Affairs for use as a national cemetery for veterans. She stated that "this bill facilitates a legislative request from the VA's Annual Budget request. FY 2021 was the 5th consecutive budget proposal that included this proposed legislative priority, and it also facilitates further action on the VA's "Rural Initiative" to establish national cemeteries in rural areas where the veteran population is less than 25,000 people within a 75-mile service area."

Earlier this year, Senator Cortez Masto secured a verbal agreement with the VA to collaborate on and expedite the completion of the Elko Veterans' Cemetery project. She stated, "I very much appreciate the correspondence I received from the BLM on July 20 expressing their support for this effort. I have also had recent conversation with VA Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves. He shares my commitment to establish this cemetery for our veterans in rural Northern Nevada, and we have an agreement to work together to see its completion. Today's hearing is another step closer towards finalizing this effort."

BACKGROUND:

The Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act was designed in collaboration with local officials to incentivize economic growth for Pershing County's rural communities, while also prioritizing the protection of wildlife habitat and the efficient management of federal public lands. The bill creates a checkerboard resolution program, authorizes the sale of specific mining lands for fair market value in order to increase the county's limited tax base to help provide essential county services and creates new wilderness lands.

The Elko National Cemetery Act would authorize the interagency transfer of federal land needed to construct a burial site for Elko veterans from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for use as a national cemetery. Earlier this year, Senator Cortez Masto announced that she had secured a verbal agreement with the VA to collaborate on and expedite the completion of the Elko Veterans' Cemetery project.


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