Great Basin National Park
I had just two encounters with him and, of course, at this time when he has just passed, they come vividly to memory.
He promptly responded to a letter I sent him in September, 1992, complaining about Nevada’s Open Range laws which make it possible for ranchers to infringe upon private property and graze their cattle wherever they want. A lesser politician might have shot back a form letter. But Senator Reid openly shared observations on the situation and clearly saw the dilemma: while acknowledging ranchers’ need to survive and pay grazing fees, he also saw the need for reform in the light of: “. . . changes in population and expansion of populated areas. . . ” He stood ready to help and contact the BLM on my behalf. He said he sought a way to “. . . reform the grazing system without destroying the industry”. Today from the perspective of more experience, I can appreciate how frank, open and accessible he was.
My other interaction with him was a local meet and greet at which I buttonholed him and pressed upon him our TrailSafe brochures about reforming or banning commercial and/or recreational trapping on our public lands. He instantly grasped the point and said, in effect, the trappers have to get out of the 19th century mentality.
Here’s a quote from his letter to me:
“I am very concerned about the environment, as attested to by my work with the Nevada Wilderness bill, the creation of the Great Basin National Park, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area in southern Nevada, numerous land acquisition projects that protect sensitive areas, and my support for grazing reform.”
True to his word, here from the Las Vegas Sun Dec. 28, 2021 are but a few of the environmental victories he brought about: . . .
“Along the way, Reid’s public lands agenda helped take Nevada from 67,000 acres of wilderness to more than 4 million acres of new parks and open spaces when he left office.
“One of Reid’s first acts was establishing the Great Basin National Park — the state’s first national park — and securing other new wilderness areas in Nevada, including restoring the clarity of Lake Tahoe.”
And. . . quoting Shaaron Netherton, Executive Director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness, on behalf of the Friends Board of Directors and Staff:
“His devotion, skill and tenacity over decades led to adding sixty-nine Wilderness Areas to Nevada’s original one. He also secured protection for Great Basin National Park, the Sloan Canyon and Black Rock Desert–High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Areas, the Tule Springs Fossil Beds, Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments. He leaves a magnificent legacy of protected areas in Nevada for all future generations.”
Senator Harry Reid led the way for environmental protection in Nevada. He intuitively understood our love of wildlife and wild spaces; let his spirit guide and protect our efforts.