LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- One local lawmaker wants to take federally protected land on the eastside of the Las Vegas Valley near Henderson and step up conservation and recreation there to create something akin to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
In a map outlining the area proposed for increased protection, it’s called Frenchman Mountain- Rainbow Gardens National Recreation Area.
From the colorful mountain ranges in the desert lowlands and the Gypsum Cave which holds early evidence of human inhabitance, to exposed surface rock representing more than 1.2 billion years of the planet’s crust and tectonic plates, Senate Joint Resolution 10 seeks to increase protections for undeveloped public lands including Sunrise Mountain, Frenchman Mountain and Rainbow Gardens.
“When the pandemic first hit and there was the closure of Red Rock Canyon, I cannot tell you how many families were up on Frenchman Mountain hiking and enjoying the trails out there but these are trails that are not maintained,” stated Nevada State Senator James Ohrenschall who represents the area and is one of five sponsors of the bill.
“We want this area to be protected, for trails to be established, parking areas where people can picnic and go hiking with their family,” Ohrenschall added.
The resolution calls on Congress to designate part or all of the areas as national conservation areas, national recreation areas or national monuments, increasing federal protection.
The area sees heavy illegal dumping and vandalism but few federal law enforcement officials to stop it.
“People go out there and spray paint and dump old boats and garbage and it’s just a disgrace,” Dr. Steve Rowland, Professor Emeritus of Geology at UNLV contended.
Dr. Rowland is also pushing for increased protection.
He asserts there is no place else in the world with exposed strata like at Frenchman Mountain and Rainbow Garden, visible documentation of earth's history.
“The layers are so beautiful and laid out and its broken up by faults that the students can learn to map, so it’s just a classic area that we use all the time,” Dr. Rowland shared.
If the bill passes committee, it will go to a vote by the full senate. Stay with FOX5 for continuing coverage.