This fall, when hunting and fishing seasons are in full swing across the West, hunters will be comparing notes about Basin and Range National Monument just two hours from Las Vegas, Nevada. 

The nation’s newest National Monument has a characteristic topography that is familiar to anyone who is lucky enough to venture across it. Steep climbs up elongate mountain ranges alternate with long treks across flat, dry deserts, over and over and over again. The new monument will protect 704,000 acres in Nye and Lincoln counties in central Nevada. The area has been long prized by conservationists and championed by Sen. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBiden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (D-Nev.) as containing unspoiled backcountry landscape, critical habitat for both game and sensitive animal and plant species and Native American artifacts and petroglyphs. 


Contrary to the fears spread by some, hunting access will continue on these public lands as they have for generations, though with one big difference: with a monument designation, our public lands are permanently protected from development. They will remain public, unspoiled and open forever. In fact, the presidential proclamation even highlights: “The area provides important habitat for game species including desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk, and pronghorn.” 

Sportsmen have long recognized that we’re responsible for protecting our outdoor traditions. That’s why New Mexico hunters and anglers were a driving force behind the creation of both the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments, and why we continue to support the president’s authority to protect national monuments. Today, we stand with Nevada’s sportsmen who worked for the conservation of Basin and Range to ensure that their kids and grandkids (and ours!) can hunt, hike and camp there someday, too. 

Just as his predecessors (both Republican and Democrat) have done since 1906, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to designate this new monument. It was the kind of positive action President Theodore Roosevelt first took more than a century ago to protect big game habitat that would eventually become part of Grand Canyon National Park (Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon Game Preserve by proclamation in 1906 and Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908; Grand Canyon National Park was signed into law by President Wilson in 1919), and we very much appreciate that Obama took the same action in Nevada. 

With the designation of Basin and Range National Monument, Nevada can expect that the economies of the surrounding areas will improve. Contrary to the naysayers, national monument status can bring in visitors – including sportsmen – supporting small, local businesses. Again, our experience in New Mexico with Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks serves as an example. As recently reported in the local press, the designation of these new monuments have benefitted numerous businesses in the local economies. Our advice to sportsmen and women nationwide who want to protect their own favorite spots in their own backyards is simple: get involved and make it happen.  

The Basin and Range National Monument is the backyard of more than 600,000 residents and will provide an outdoor escape for those tired of the neon expanse of nearby Las Vegas. This unique landscape provides winter range for elk and deer and a permanent home for at least two dozen threatened and sensitive wildlife species. I applaud Nevada sportsmen who worked with Reid and Obama to permanently protect the hunting and outdoor heritage of this unique landscape by designating the Basin and Range National Monument.

I also hope hunters and sportsmen from around the country will visit this beautiful state and see why Nevada sportsmen and women worked so hard to establish our new national monuments for all Americans to enjoy. I certainly plan to visit the Basin and Range National Monument.

Leahy is the Conservation director for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation.