International Dark Night Skies Week is observed April 5 -12, 2021, and the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument has cause to celebrate. Threats of industrial development are looming for the 380,000-acre area in Clark County due to a recent application submitted by a Swedish wind power developer for the Kulning Wind project. But this week, the Nevada Chapter of the International Dark Skies Association (IDA) and the Las Vegas Astronomical Society (LVAS) submitted letters supporting Avi Kwa Kwa’s designation as a national monument.
A national monument designation would protect Avi Kwa Ame from development while providing continued access for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy hiking, climbing, and stargazing activities.
“In a world where dark night skies are becoming rarer, it’s vital that Nevada prioritize and protect these assets,” says Keith Caceres, LVAS president. “Nevada’s dark skies are a unique and scarce resource. As we look to diversify our economy, we must take steps to preserve their integrity.”
An alliance of national and local conservation groups and tribes is asking the public to sign a petition and contact their Clark County Commissioner requesting Avi Kwa Ame be designated a national monument. The petition can be found at www.honorspiritmountain.org.
“The IDA supports the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, as it will create a buffer for the Mojave Preserve and surrounding area, thereby preserving dark skies resources,” says Kevin Swartz, president of the Nevada chapter of IDA. “The IDA is trying to save what natural darkness remains in eastern California and western Nevada. Avi Kwa Ame will be a bulwark in that effort.”
If designated Nevada’s fourth national monument, Avi Kwa Ame will create a massive contiguous block of conserved land critical to 30 by 30, an initiative with strong bipartisan support.
“Nevada is joining national, state, and local efforts to pursue an ambitious goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030 in order to address rapid biodiversity loss and stave off the effects of the environmental and climate crisis threatening the future of our natural resources,” said Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Paul Selberg. “Conserving areas of cultural, historic, and spiritual significance including Avi Kwa Ame are key to achieving this bold yet necessary benchmark and also provides the opportunity to create a more inclusive conservation agenda that acknowledges, respects, and supports Indigenous conservation efforts.”
Avi Kwa Ame will also be an economic driver for Nevada. Outdoor recreation generates nearly 90,000 jobs annually, making it the third-largest generator of employment opportunities in our state, even more so than mining. In 2019, outdoor recreation accounted for nearly $5.5 billion in Nevada’s economic output, provided It will provide economic power to neighboring communities like Searchlight, Laughlin, and nearby Las Vegas.
For more information, please visit www.honorspiritmountain.org.