Last night, with Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft in attendance, the Searchlight Town Advisory Board voted unanimously to provide a letter of support for the proposed Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. Searchlight joins Boulder City’s town council, who also voted unanimously to support the area’s designation in late March.

A national monument designation for Avi Kwa Ame is vital for several reasons, including protecting existing gaps in the area from the threat of industrial development. While residents have thwarted previous development attempts, in early 2021, an application for Kulning Wind was submitted by Eolus Vind AB, a Swedish wind power developer. Residents say the development will alter the integrity of the community. 

Along with Boulder City, Searchlight is a gateway community for the monument lands. Both gateway rural communities have a lot at stake. Economic research shows that land designations and outdoor recreation contribute to gateway communities’ economic growth. (Report here.) 

 “The national monument designation will offer Searchlight gentle economic growth and influence —growth of existing businesses, a gentle influx of new people who are attracted to living here. It wouldn’t be a dramatic change,” says Kim Garrison Means, a college instructor whose family settled in the Searchlight area more than 50 years ago. 

Ahead of the June 9 meeting, Searchlight’s board members were given a petition in support of the monument with signatures with more than 130 signature of Searchlight area residents in favor of the national monument designation. 

 “This designation will not only allow Searchlight residences to shape our collective future and economy as a gateway town but also gives us a voice on how the monument will function and be managed in perpetuity when created,” says Mikayla Whitmore, a Searchlight landowner.

After the meeting in Searchlight, Commissioners Naft and Justin Jones joined nearly 60 community stakeholders at the historic Walking Box Ranch for a discussion about the proposed national monument and stargazing hosted by Las Vegas Astronomical Society. Also in attendance was Boulder City Councilmember James Adams, who spearheaded efforts to support the monument in his community. 

 “Boulder City has a proud history of conserving our surrounding desert landscape that all of us hold so dearly,” said Councilmember Adams. “Passing this resolution was one of my proudest moments on council because it continued that great tradition.”

Avi Kwa Ame’s national monument designation supporters include groups like the Nevada Outdoor Business Coalitionthe Boulder City Town Council, Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, the Las Vegas chapter of the International Dark Skies Association, Las Vegas Astronomical Society, Nevada Conservation League, Conservation Lands Foundation, and the National Parks Conservation Association, among other. 

In 2020, national and local conservation groups launched a public awareness campaign to garner support for the 380,000-acre area’s national monument designation. The land has come under repeated threats of industrial development. Mojave for Spirit Mountain, Avi Kwa Ame, is considered sacred to 12 Native Tribes. 

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Stephanie Forté is a storyteller, connector, and problem-solver inspired by the great outdoors and energized by the transformation of people, communities, and brands. She is a longtime advocate for public lands, outdoor recreation, and women’s health.

She spotlights people and organizations creating meaningful change in her writing and award-winning PR strategies. Stephanie also mines her life for stories, and her published essays have helped others navigate challenges and to feel less alone.

Stephanie Forte