(May 5, 2021) Nevada’s outdoor industry businesses are making a case for Avi Kwa Ame‘s national monument designation, following a presentation on Earth Day about the area to Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition‘s (NVOBC) board and members. This week, NVBOC submitted a letter of support for Avi Kwa Ame to lawmakers, stating the proposed national monument in Clark County means economic growth for nearby rural and urban areas, along with driving the state’s fast-growing outdoor recreation industry.
In 2019, outdoor recreation accounted for nearly $5.5 billion in Nevada’s economic output, up from roughly $5.1 billion in 2017. Nevada’s outdoor industry has sustained more than three times as many jobs as mining.
“Interest and engagement in outdoor recreation are at an all-time high, so there’s more opportunity for our state’s outdoor industry to skyrocket,” says Stephanie Forté, NVOBC president. “Avi Kwa Ame is an important cultural and ecological resource. It offers outdoor recreation and dark night skies and is critical in driving Nevada’s outdoor recreation industry.”
According to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), 2020 marked the most significant uptick in outdoor participation since the organization started tracking data. Surges reported for 2020 include 8.1 million more people went hiking.
“It’s proven that National Monument designations move the needle for nearby communities. According to Headwaters Economics, protected lands help create jobs and economic growth,” said Forté. “With people hungry to explore public lands like Avi Kwa Ame, a national monument designation equates to greater economic health for Nevada.”
Headwaters Economics reports Western counties with the highest share of protected federal lands experience faster population, employment, and personal income growth than those with the lowest percentage of protected federal lands.
Lee Canyon GM Dan Hooper agrees. “At Lee Canyon, we know managed recreation is a priority for land managers,” says Hooper, also an NVOBC board member. “They understand how to plan and balance conservation with outdoor recreation. Avi Kwa Ame has the potential to be a winning proposition for Nevada.”
Recently, Avi Kwa Ame has come under threat thanks to an application submitted by Eolus Vind AB, a Swedish wind power developer, for Kulning Wind. It has heightened efforts to conserve the area is sacred to 12 Native Tribes and an epicenter of outdoor recreation.
Public lands attract more than visitors, they also are a draw for entrepreneurs with a big vision. Red Rock Canyon, for example, inspired Jared Fisher, CEO of Escape Adventures and Las Vegas Cyclery, to create his adventure tour and cycling retail shop. The businesses started as a marketing project while Fisher and his wife Heather Fisher, Save Red Rock’s president, were seniors at UNLV.
“A national monument designation for Avi Kwa Ame will diversify outdoor recreation opportunities for locals and visitors in Southern Nevada,” said Jared Fisher, an NVOBC board advisor. “Along with outdoor adventure, Avi Kwa Ame allows people to appreciate Nevada’s historical places, significant to our Native Tribes and the western expansion of the United States, such as the Mojave Trail, the Garces Expedition, and Walking Box Ranch.”
Support for Avi Kwa Ame’s national monument designation has been received from the Boulder City Town Council, Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, the Las Vegas chapter of the International Dark Skies Association Las Vegas Astronomical Society, among others.
In April, the Clark County Commission unanimously supported a resolution for 30×30 submitted by Commissioner Justin Jones. Nevada Assemblywoman Cecelia González of District 16 championed Nevada’s 30×30 resolution that was adopted in early April. Avi Kwa Ame is mentioned in the state resolution since its 380,000 acres will create a massive contiguous block of protected land critical to 30 by 30, an initiative with strong bipartisan support.
The public can take action by signing the petition at www.honorspiritmountain.org.