Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ancient history vs. Vegas development

Ashley Powers writes:

LAS VEGAS -- Local real estate agent Sandy Croteau made a somewhat surprising pitch as she traipsed through a vacant, gravel-filled wash: She wants to spare the expanse from home developers.

Trying to halt this city's growth may be a Sisyphean task, but Croteau, 60, is counting on help from some sun-worn mammoth bones. About 10,000 bison, camel and mammoth fossils have been unearthed in recent years in a nearly 13,000-acre ribbon of the Upper Las Vegas Wash just south of Desert National Wildlife Refuge. And with builders champing to get at the property, the federal Bureau of Land Management must figure out how much of the land to preserve.

Acknowledging the fossils' archeological import, Las Vegas officials have backed a plan that would shield about one quarter of the wash from development. But, they argue, conserving the entire area would thwart growth north of the city, where there is still room for homes and water and sewer lines.

With streets nearby already lined with bulldozers or adjacent subdivisions, Croteau and other activists have gathered hundreds of signatures in support of protecting the entire stretch.

"The first time I saw this, it changed my life," said Croteau, her shadow darkening mammoth bones still in the dirt. "Do we really need a Quickstop here?"

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