Wetlands have become a reality in Las Vegas. In a project that has seen tremendous support and strong opposition, Wetlands Park had an official dedication to a 112-acre addition of the 2,900 acre park on the far east end of Tropicana Road on Friday.
Its location is significantly placed at the bottom end of the topography that begins with Mount Charleston on the west and ends with Lake Mead on the east. The Wetlands Park is on the eastern end of this slope.
Financing has been derived form government agencies, donations, and fines. Government officials penalized land developers for disturbing environmentally sensitive areas. As compensation they were forced to purchase an acre of land in the Wetlands Park for every acre they disturbed or destroyed.
In a Review Journal article, Elsie Sellars, the Wetlands Park coordinator said, “If they disturbed an acre of wetland, they had to purchase an acre in the park.”
Each damaged acre had a value of $114,000 placed on it by an unknown source. Just a few years ago BLM (Bureau of Land Management) was having three land sales a year in Vegas, with one acre going for an average of $500,000.
By putting together a large piece of land instead of little pieces scattered about the Las Vegas basin it has created a substantial piece of property that is more conducive to wildlife in the long run. Sellers explained further, “One area is more beneficial to the wildlife.”
The addition was dedicated Friday with representatives from Dina Titus and Senator Harry Reid along with Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid. Conservation groups where also there for the dedication ceremonies.
Sellers is claiming it has already proved successful, “Since we put in the ponds in the spring, we’ve seen six species of birds we haven’t seen (in Southern Nevada) since the 1970’s.”
She also said that the Franklin's Gull is now nesting in the Las Vegas Wash area which had never been documented before.
The Wetlands Park is an ongoing venture with 20 projects, in different stages, with a price tag of $80 million in the works.
Future projects include a $15 million nature center, additional trail heads, and audio and video presentations. Sellers said, “We’re not taking bids yet, but we’re hoping to soon.”
Rory Reid, in the same article said, “Its natural wetlands about 15 minutes from our urban center. It’s an incredible opportunity for people to escape the city and see another world. Ultimately, when it’s complete, it’ll be our Central Park.”