Red Rock Canyon is a major draw in Nevada, for visitors and residents alike. (kconnors/morguefile)

CARSON CITY – The Nevada legislative session begins today, and conservation groups are asking lawmakers to create a state-level Office of Outdoor Recreation to protect public lands and support the businesses that depend on them.

Listen to an audio report from Suzanne Potter …


A 2018 study showed that Nevada’s outdoor industry supported 87,000 jobs and generated $12.6 billion in consumer spending and $4 billion in tax revenue. Meghan Wolf, environmental activism manager for Patagonia, said the outdoor industry merits a statewide platform.

“We think that an office can help give both recognition, structure and protection, because this wouldn’t work without a conservation component, to help support this industry,” Wolf said.

Twelve other states already have such an office, including Colorado, where the office managed to attract a major conference – the Outdoor Retailer Show – to Denver.

Wolf said Nevada’s ample opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, fishing, hunting and skiing contribute to a great quality of life. But, she added, the wild places need state protection.

“There is the problem of loving these places to death. I mean, that is a real concern,” she said. “And so we think that recognition will bring more funding for conservation as well.”

A bill to create an Office of Outdoor Recreation is currently in the works, and discussions are ongoing between the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Lieutenant Governor’s office on how to balance conservation with economic development.