Airport Doesn't Fly for All

REVIEW-JOURNAL It's slot machines vs. solitude. Residents and special interest groups are taking sides over a proposal to build a major commercial airport for Las Vegas near a national preserve in the California desert. The...

So far, the Clark County Department of Aviation has been determined to put the new airport at the Ivanpah location. Airport officials say they've studied several sites and Ivanpah is the best location.

That's because the Department of Defense reserves much of the airspace north of Las Vegas for military use. The airport also needs to be far enough south of Las Vegas to avoid conflict with traffic at McCarran and Nellis Air Force Base. The Ivanpah location is also close to existing pipelines for jet fuel, as well as the freeway and railroad tracks.

Deb DeMeo of the National Parks Conservation Association said she thinks it would be possible to build the airport without causing too much disruption in the Mojave National Preserve.

"What I have heard is Clark County wants to construct an airport that is environmentally friendly," said DeMeo, who added she hopes the comments prompt a thorough investigation into direct and indirect effect of an airport on the park.

One way to reduce the impact of the airport would be to raise the level of protection and management of open space surrounding the site, she said. That could make it less likely that development prompted by a new airport would reach too far into the preserve.

She also wants to keep open the possibility of putting an airport someplace else.

"Those other sites, I think they deserve a fair evaluation," she said. "Politically, whether they get them or not, I don't know."

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