Lincoln land act benefits many people

The federal act authorizing sale of 90,000 acres in Nevada has to be considered a win for a whole lot of people, defining "compromise" about as well as it can be in Congress.

That means not everybody got everything they wanted, either.

When President Bush signs the Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act, the way will be open for more water for Las Vegas, a huge new wilderness area in the state, release of another large chunk of public land for multiple use, and increased urban development.

That pretty much covers the bases - especially for Lincoln County - for both protectionists and builders.

What it doesn't do is equally important: The water-pipeline proposal still will need to undergo federal environmental and state groundwater reviews.

The bulldozers don't roll and the water doesn't start getting pumped until the effects are known and mitigated. A balance is maintained between conservation and development, with neither precluding the other.

It also doesn't give a sweetheart deal to Harvey Wittemore, who is planning a 50,000 home community and needed federal easements. Wittemore benefits, it's true, but will pay on a fairer formula.

The leader of one conservation group called the act "the epitome of a bad lands bill" because it didn't do everything the group demanded. Unfortunately, that kind of attitude is the epitome of extremism and a strategy to ensure nothing ever gets accomplished.

In sharp contrast, though, is the attitude of Nevada's congressional delegation - Harry Reid, Jim Gibbons, John Ensign, Shelley Berkley and Jon Porter - and many groups of varying stripes who saw what was to be gained by cooperating.

They put a lot work into the legislation, and all can claim a piece of the victory.


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