Nevada business leaders Thursday announced their support for efforts to protect the Black Rock Desert and High Rock Canyon region in Northern Nevada.
To date, 50 businesses have endorsed a citizens' plan to protect the region as a National Conservation Area and designate 13 Wilderness areas.
"Businesses like ours are moving to Nevada for the quality of life the state offers. Access to the wild and beautiful places such as the Black Rock-High Rock region are part of that equation," said Ron Hunter of Patagonia Inc.
Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., introduced legislation last March to safeguard the famous Applegate-Lassen Emigrant Trail and its viewshed, which encompasses the Black Rock-High Rock country. Much of this surrounding wildland has remained unchanged in the past 150 years. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has co-sponsored the legislation.
Businesses supporting protection of the area range from outdoor recreation companies like Patagonia and Reno Mountain Sports to Gerber Medical Clinic and Silver Peak Brewery.
John Farahi, chief executive officer of Atlantis Casino in Reno, said that protecting the Black Rock was critical to Reno's tourism industry.
"The Black Rock-High Rock Region is a spectacular draw for Northern Nevada," he said. "With the rise of Indian gaming in California and the need to diversify our offerings, we need to capitalize on opportunities to highlight the uniqueness of the Nevada experience. Senator Bryan's bill to protect the Black Rock helps to accomplish this goal."
Phil Zive, Sparks City Council member and owner of Payroll Systems of Nevada, said, "It is important that Nevada's business community lead the way in protecting some of our special places for future generations. This is a good proposal that protects an area that is under increasing pressure."
Christine Kelly, owner of Sundance Bookstore, said uncontrolled growth forces businesses to take an active role in preserving Nevada's special qualities."Local, independent businesses are disappearing as quickly as wilderness on our public lands," she said.
"There is a real connection between protecting places like the Black Rock Desert and protecting our sense of community. We think the Black Rock NCA makes good sense for the community."
The playas, mountains and canyons of the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon region are home to pronghorn and bighorn sheep, wild horses, golden eagles and many other species of wildlife. The region also contains many nationally significant historic sites.
The business leaders called on Congress to pass legislation protecting the Black Rock Desert region as soon as possible. They also encouraged other businesses to join them in supporting conservation of the area.
"I am hopeful that many more businesses will join this growing list and help to conserve one of Nevada's true treasures," Hunter said. He encouraged supportive businesses to contact him at (775) 746-6824.