Heller clarifies intent of draft

Sen. Dean Heller

Sen. Dean Heller

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., clarified misconceptions for a draft bill that was recently released on the proposed sage grouse endangered species designation and land withdrawal on behalf of him and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday with the LVN, Heller said the bill that was released is only a draft to involve Nevada in case the state — not the federal government — will be required to designate land as sage grouse habitat. Heller said he and Reid are trying to do everything in their power to keep the sage grouse off the endangered species list. He said, however, if the sage grouse is listed on the endangered list, it will be economically devastating to Nevada and 10 other states. Heller said Reid agrees with that assessment.

“The rural senators are pushing hard against this,” Heller said. “I live in Smith Valley, and I’ll fight tooth and nail that this doesn’t affect us and the other states.”

If the federal government takes complete control with the sage grouse situation, both senators have previously said the action will severely impact Nevada’s agriculture, mining and accessibility to federal lands.

Heller said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife wants to designate 20 million acres of land for sage grouse habitat. The junior senator stressed repeatedly that he hopes Nevada will be the government delegating the land used for the sage grouse and not the feds.

If the FWS is successful, Heller said the federal courts will more than likely approve the plan.

“Who do you want designating that .. the state of feds,” Heller said regarding the withdrawal of 20 million acres. “Most people (who have contacted his office) want the state to make the determination.”

Heller said he has talked with Northern Nevada Assembly members and state senators for their input, and they don’t like the federal action anymore than he. Heller said he has told constituents who have called him or his Nevada offices to “make noise.”

Heller said this action to review the sage grouse endangered species designation and habitat occurred because of a federal court order that must be decided by September 2015. He said it is important to ensure the sage grouse stays off the endangered list. He said Gov. Brian Sandoval is also pushing back to have the sage grouse becoming listed on the endangered species list.

Heller urges everyone who would like to have his or her opinion heard on the sage grouse topic to send an email to sagegrouse@heller.senate.gov.


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