For years, Southern Nevada has developed its expansive parks with proceeds from the sale of federal land to developers hungry to build sprawling housing tracts.
The more we expanded into the desert, the more money from government land sales was set aside for parks.
But with the real estate market tanking, developers are no longer asking the government to put its land up for top-dollar auction. There’s just no demand for it.
And as a result, the stream of money for parks has turned to a trickle.
Look at what’s happened over the past two years.
In early 2006 more than $461 million was awarded to municipalities for major park projects, in accordance with the Southern Nevada Land Management Act, which governs land sales by the Bureau of Land Management.
Next year that amount will likely be less than $10 million.
The act allows counties and cities to ask the BLM to sell parcels at public auction if developers are waiting in the wings. The proceeds are then used to fund parks and trails projects. Since 1998, the process has funded more than $3.2 billion in major public projects, including $1 billion for parks.
In anticipation of the next round of BLM funding next year, municipalities nominated their projects in October — without knowing how much money will be available.
“The BLM is very vague,” said Connie Diso, a Las Vegas project engineer. “They said as high as $10 million and as low as $5 million.”
The four major local governments — Clark County, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson — have nominated $11.2 million worth of projects for the next round of funding.
The local projects will compete for funding with projects in Lincoln and White Pine counties.
The BLM has stowed $57.6 million for future allocations. But it’s unclear how much of that will be used for parks and trails.
The money is also used for the acquisition of protected land, capital improvements, conservation initiatives, Lake Tahoe restoration projects, the proposed Ivanpah Airport and an education fund.
Local governments have revaluated which projects to focus on, aiming mostly to renovate existing parks.
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