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Valley of Fire State Park. Overton, Nevada. Park Service photo.

By Peter Guzman

I am proud to call Southern Nevada my home. I was born and raised in Las Vegas, and I love it here. I love the vibrant city life, the diverse cultures, and the accessible open space found in our community parks. I love the museums where I can learn about Nevada’s fascinating and eclectic history. I also love the vast public lands that surround the city, offering a lifetime of opportunities to explore and discover and providing a home where wildlife can thrive. This is Nevada. And it is our home.

As a businessman who works to help small businesses every day, I find that the accessibility to culture and nature is important for our business community. First, there is a direct benefit to on-site, small businesses who profit from patronage by locals and visitors to our parks, museums and attractions. These amenities increase property values. Perhaps most importantly, they increase the quality of life for the families of small business owners and for the workers they employ.

Attracting good talent is a top priority for all businesses and having safe, clean, accessible parks and museums is appealing for workers and their families. Many of the amenities that enhance the quality of life in Las Vegas were made possible by funding from state conservation bonds. Places like the Springs Preserve and the Pittman Wash Trail were built using conservation funding. Approved by voters in 2002, the conservation bond program supported the development of many amenities that we appreciate in Nevada today.

Now, these funds are almost spent, and we need the Nevada Legislature to reauthorize the funding. AB84 does just that — and it will benefit communities in all corners of the state. The next round of funding will provide additional investments for the Las Vegas Springs Preserve. It will help Boulder City complete an expansion of the Railroad Museum. It will support the construction of the Vegas Valley Rim Trail and continue the construction of the Lake Tahoe Bike Path. It will help our drinking water sources by improving infrastructure for the Las Vegas Wash, and the Carson and Truckee Rivers.

In my experience, small businesses with families are pressed for time and money and they cannot travel to see some of our state’s most spectacular lands. Fortunately, conservation funding has provided low-cost recreation opportunities in state parks that surround the city. For an overnight trip, families can travel a short one hour drive north of the city to Valley of Fire State Park or south to the Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area. Here they can spend the night in one of the clean, safe campgrounds that were developed using funds generated from conservation bonds. With AB84, state parks will be able to enhance and expand visitor services.

In Nevada’s rural communities, conservation funding will be used to create amenities to attract more tourism. For example, AB84 allocates funds to help the town of Caliente restore its historic train depot, which will bring visitors to experience a unique part of history. Funds will also be used to help restore wildlife habitat in Nevada and provide enhanced opportunities for hunting and fishing across the state. Small businesses in rural communities will benefit from the visitor traffic that is sustained by these investments in our public lands.

The bottom line is that conservation funding is good for Nevada’s businesses. Investments in parks, trails, museums, open space, and public lands improve the quality of life in Nevada. They make communities attractive places to live and create a lasting sense of place. Join me in supporting AB84 for Nevada’s future.

Peter Guzman is the president and CEO of the Latin Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the Board for Get Outdoors Nevada and is a trustee for The Nature Conservancy in Nevada.

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