1999 was about putting out fires
This year the State of Nevada has had more than its fair share of ups and downs. We were fortunate enough to experience record levels of prosperity within the state’s largest industry and economy continued to improve. Casinos in both the north and south have reported record earnings in the last few months. While on the other hand, the mining industry has had a very difficult year, having to layoff thousands of workers. Also this year, we had the worst wild fires in recorded history, wiping out grazing areas for thousands of animals creating even harder times for an already struggling cattle industry.
Over the past year I have worked hard to provide services for those who needed help. More times than not, a large number of people have come together in our communities from the privates sector, city, county, state and federal agencies to make Nevada a great place to live.
It was the work of people from the local community, county, state and federal agencies that came together to solve problems. My Southern Nevada Public Lands Bill will have positive ramifications in both Northern and Southern Nevada. This landmark legislation allows all of the proceeds generated from public auctions of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property in Clark County to remain in the state of Nevada. And with the money going to buy environmentally sensitive lands, fund school and water infrastructure construction, and maintain recreation areas, this new land has finally made the disposal of federal land in Nevada a winning proposition for our state.
This year, the Carson River was named a National Restoration Demonstration Watershed because the citizens in four Nevada counties came together to find solutions to problems they didn’t create but wanted to solve. As honorary chairman of a number of the projects and conferences relating to the river, I saw what people can do when they focus on solutions. This award, which was only one of 12 rivers in the country so honored, was made possible by the hard work of thousands of Nevadans. It is efforts like these, by the Carson River volunteers, that make our communities better places to live and improve our environment for future generations.
In Douglas County, federal agencies are working with the chamber of commerce and communities leaders to preserve open space and protect the agriculture heritage of the valley before it looks like yet another huge suburban subdivision. The Carson Valley is truly one of Nevada’s most beautiful spots, and this will help the community to preserve this legacy. My legislation, which passed the Senate during the last session, will help facilitate efforts to preserve open space in the Carson Valley by streamlining the administrative jurisdiction of the federal agencies involved through the use of completely voluntary conservation easements.
The rash of lay-offs in the mining industry was clearly one of the biggest disappointments of the year in rural Nevada, but when one miner called my office earlier this year and requested information about any available assistance, I was able to help. Fortunately, the Department of Labor responded to my inquiry with funds for extended benefits, relocation and training which helped more than 2,500 miners that had been laid off in rural Nevada. I was also successful in obtaining additional assistance from the Department of Labor, when they made an additional $2 million available this September to assist more laid-off miners throughout Nevada.
Earlier this year, over twenty five federal, state and private sector agencies responded to my request to participate in an Economic Task Force within two weeks after BHP Coppers was forced to lay-off their work force constituting 10 percent of the population in Ely.
The same task force, held this past October, met with community leaders in Battle Mountain and Winnemucca to help local officials and business leaders begin the process of looking at all of the economic alternatives available to their communities. It is not an easy task to replace so many good paying jobs, but these emergency forums helped get the ball rolling.
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to serve all Nevadans in the United States Senate and it is my pleasure to help any Nevadan when they are in need. Please do not hesitate to contact any of my three state offices in Carson City, Las Vegas and Reno as well as my office in Washington if I can be of any assistance.
My wife Bonnie and I will spend this holiday season with 2 or our 3 grandchildren, I hope everyone is as fortunate to spend time with their own loved ones. Happy Holidays to all and I look forward to working together and making it a very Happy New Year for all of Nevada.