The summit marked the first time that local, state, and federal officials have come together to discuss ways to improve the many recreational opportunities and resources that the Lake Mead NRA has to offer. The Lake is critical to the Las Vegas Valley for a variety of reasons such as water supply, power generation, recreation, and supporting our economic base for tourism. The annual economic impact of the Lake Mead NRA and its millions of visitors to the region exceeds $1 billion.
There is no doubt that the Lake has experienced challenges like never before. The current drought has lowered the lake from its capacity of 1,220 feet to 1,139 feet. It costs nearly $5 to $6 million to maintain the level of services for every 20-foot drop such as moving marinas and docks from sites that have been left high and dry. Despite the challenges Lake Mead NRA faces, the Lake is open for business and still provides some of the best water and land recreational venues in the nation.
Later this summer, I hope to have a report from the summit’s working group ready to present to the Chairman of the natural Resources Committee Richard Pombo (R-CA) for possible legislation to obtain more funding to address the issues at Lake Mead. The report will serve as a blueprint to address the serious challenges of the five-year drought, water quality issues, and access to the Lake that has ever-rising infrastructure costs. Other critical issues that need to be addressed include recreation facility upgrades, national park service staffing levels at Lake Mead NRA, and security. About $44 million from the sale of public lands in southern Nevada have gone toward projects in the recreation area over the past few years, but more needs to be done.
I am committed to doing all I can to help revitalize the Lake Mead NRA and ensure that its natural resources are protected, and that the multi-functions the Lake provides to southern Nevada continue for decades to come. By working together, we can identify a blueprint to bring about long term improvements at Lake Mead that will allow the Lake to remain the crown jewel of southern Nevada.