Senators tout success on land, water and environmental issues

Nevada senators Harry Reid and John Ensign on Friday touted their success in protecting the state and winning funding under an Interior appropriations bill.

The legislation has been approved by both houses of Congress and is on its way to President George W. Bush's desk.

That legislation, said Reid, contains some $8 million for water and land projects in Nevada.

"This bill includes funding to ensure safe drinking water in our small towns and large cities," he said.

The list includes $400,000 to replace a ruptured sewer line in Douglas County and $50,000 for a pump to move water from Marlette Lake to Carson City and Virginia City.

Ensign said the funds include $500,000 for a warning system at Mount Charleston.

"When fire or other natural catastrophes strike the Spring Mountains, there is a very narrow window of opportunity to evacuate the area and make sure that law enforcement can access it," Ensign said, adding that the warning system is vital to those efforts.

They said their biggest success in the final bill was killing the president's attempt to take away a billion dollars in proceeds from the sale of federal lands in Southern Nevada. That money has, for years, gone to environmental and educational uses in Nevada including the acquisition of sensitive lands in the Tahoe Basin. Bush wanted the money to help offset the federal deficit.

Also contained in the appropriations bill is language directing the Bureau of Land Management to work with the National Wild Horse Association on a pilot program to increase the number of wild horse adoptions each year.

There have been complaints from numerous parties from animal-rights groups to ranchers about the horse program, which they say is badly managed, failing to find enough people willing to adopt the horses. There have also been complaints that many of the animals are being sent to slaughter after they are adopted.

The senators said a public-private partnership between BLM and the horse association could improve management of the wild horse population, half of which is in Nevada.

"The BLM's wild horse and burro adoption program has been a deeply troubled program," they said in a joint statement. "Proper management of our nation's wild horses is a complex issue but we can all agree that increasing adoptions is one of the most important things we can do."

-Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.

Interior appropriations

Nevada projects funded by the legislation:

• Carson City Hobart drinking water system - $50,000

• Douglas County sewer system - $400,000

• Lahontan Cutthroat Trout restoration - $500,000

• Walker Lake Working Group - $250,000

• North Lemmon Valley water system improvements - $150,000

• UNR biodiversity research and conservation initiative - $1.25 million

• Jarbidge Canyon road construction - $3 million

• Mount Charleston warning system - $500,000

• Henderson Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant - $1 million

• Clark County reclamation district - $650,000

• Motorized trail, Paiute Meadows - $450,000


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