Press Release Mar 23, 2012

Draining Great Basin: National Parks Conservation Association Expresses Concern Over Nevada Groundwater Pipeline

Statement by Lynn Davis, Nevada Field Office Manager, National Parks Conservation Association

“The National Parks Conservation Association is disappointed with the decision made by the Nevada State Engineer to award the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) with groundwater pipeline privileges adjacent to Great Basin National Park.”

“Great Basin — Nevada’s only national park — faces irreparable damage with the engineer’s decision to ultimately allow for pumping of more than 61,000 acre feet of water each year in Spring Valley, which adjoins the park’s western boundary.”

“Spring Valley’s groundwater is hydrologically linked to the national park’s historic Lehman Cave and 45 wild caves that support several species of bats. Lehman Cave inspired President Warren Harding in 1922 to initially protect the area. The cave includes many rare formations and is one of the most popular visitor destinations in the park.”

“Groundwater flows are known to be vital to the cave system. Great Basin National Park staff have mapped and surveyed most caves, and through this work have discovered several endemic and new species of cave-dwelling fauna.”

“A drawdown of the nearby water table also creates a strong potential for dust-bowl scenarios, which would negatively affect air quality. Great Basin National Park is home to one of the darkest night skies in the continental United States. The park’s spectacular star-gazing opportunities, which attract thousands of families and visitors annually, are now threatened.”

“Several hundred of the National Parks Conservation Association’s Nevada supporters sent letters to the engineer last fall, urging him to prevent this tremendous strain on our national park. We are deeply concerned by this great gamble, the potential impact on our country’s most special places, and the implications this decision will have on our generation, our children, and grandchildren.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

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