U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke plans to visit the Basin and Range Monument this month which may include a visit to Lincoln County.
A published report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal noted during his visit to Nevada in late June, Zinke promised to return by the end of July and take tours of the Gold Butte and Basin and Range monuments.
He stated at an event at the community center in Pahrump that he wants to see the two Nevada monuments, “from the ground and talk to stakeholders before he decides whether designations should be reduced, rescinded or left intact.”
Zinke told those in Pahrump he does not have any “preconceived ideas” about the monuments that were created by executive order by President Obama.
He has said previously that he might consider reducing the size of one or both monuments. He made the same comment about the Bears Ears Monument in Utah.
At present, Bears Ears, near Blanding, Utah is almost 1.4 million acres, Gold Butte monument, south of Mesquite and Bunkerville, is 300,000 acres, and Basin and Range Monument is 704,000 acres covering Lincoln and Nye Counties.
While in Pahrump, Zinke also announced that more than 1,900 local governments around the country are slated to receive $464.6 million in payment in lieu of taxes, or PILT monies, in 2017. Twenty-six million dollars will come to Nevada. Nye County will receive $3.15 million and Lincoln County about $893,000.
Nye County Commission chair Dan Schinhoffen said, “Some people in the East consider this welfare for the West, but with 98 percent of our land owned or managed by the federal government, we don’t see this as discretionary. We feel like we should get it every year, or we should be sending them a tax bill.”
No specific dates were given as to when Zinke wanted to make his tour of Gold Butte and Basin and Range, but sometime in the latter part of July at which time he also intends to meet with state and county officials, business groups, tribal representatives and others.
Following his confirmation to the position of Interior Secretary in March, Zinke has been reviewing 22 monuments nationwide that have been established by presidential decree since 1996 and is due to deliver his final report to President Trump by late August.