Statement on the Explore Your Nevada Initiative
During his State of the State address on January 17, 2017, Governor Brian Sandoval unveiled the Explore Your Nevada initiative and announced two major elements of this initiative: the unprecedented donation of three historic Nevada properties that will become part of the Nevada State Park system and be known collectively as the Walker River State Recreation Area, as well as plans for a new state park in Clark County that will be called Ice Age Fossils State Park.
“I believe the acquisition of these historic ranches is a generational opportunity for Nevada. The recreational opportunities on the ranch land and along the East Walker River are phenomenal,” Sandoval added. “The new Ice Age Fossils State Park in North Las Vegas is rich with ice age fossils and great opportunities to learn about prehistoric Nevada.”
The Walker River State Recreation Area will be established on property donated to the State by the Walker Basin Restoration Program. The new recreation area will be comprised of 28 miles of river corridor on the East Walker River and the property associated with the former Pitchfork, Rafter 7 and Flying M Ranches. The former Flying M and Rafter 7 are contiguous ranches and the Pitchfork ranch is approximately twelve miles downstream from the northern end of Rafter 7. The donated properties were acquired as part of the Program’s effort to secure water for Walker Lake while protecting agricultural and watershed interests. Walker Lake, located at the downstream end of the Walker Basin, has experienced a significant decline in elevation since the 1850s.
“Securing water for Walker Lake and also knowing that the State will be able to actively manage the resource while creating recreational opportunities in the upper headwaters is a win for everyone,” explained Jeff Bryant of the Walker Basin Conservancy. “The State of Nevada will work with the Walker Basin Restoration Program to continue stewardship activities for soil stabilization, weed control and habitat restoration where appropriate on the former agricultural fields. This is a continuation of the Walker Basin Conservancy’s stewardship work on lands acquired by the Program.”
The Explore Your Nevada initiative also creates the new Ice Age Fossils State Park on unimproved state-owned land at a site rich with paleontological treasures. This park will offer both visitor education opportunities, as well as protection for the resources. In addition, the initiative also includes additional amenities at existing state parks, such as full hook-up and pull-through campsites, Wi-Fi enabled campgrounds and rental cabins.
“The addition of the three historic properties as Walker River State Recreation Area will allow Nevada State Parks to create and bring four outstanding new park units into the system. These park units will be known as Pitchfork, Rafter 7, Flying M and Nine Mile and together they will offer exceptional recreation, conservation and outdoor opportunities,” said Eric Johnson, administrator of Nevada State Parks. “When you include the new Ice Age Fossils State Park and the other additional amenities proposed for existing state parks across Nevada, the Governor’s $15 million Explore Your Nevada initiative is the single biggest boost Nevada State Parks has received in its existence and one that all Nevadans can be proud of as this is their state park system.”