2010 Nevada Code
TITLE 26 PUBLIC LANDS
Chapter 321 Administration, Control and Transfer of State Lands
NRS 321.596 Legislative findings.

NRS 321.596 Legislative findings. The Legislature finds that:

1. The State of Nevada has a strong moral claim upon the public land retained by the Federal Government within Nevada's borders because:

(a) On October 31, 1864, the Territory of Nevada was admitted to statehood on the condition that it forever disclaim all right and title to unappropriated public land within its boundaries;

(b) From 1850 to 1894, newly admitted states received 2 sections of each township for the benefit of common schools, which in Nevada amounted to 3.9 million acres;

(c) In 1880 Nevada agreed to exchange its 3.9-million-acre school grant for 2 million acres of its own selection from public land in Nevada held by the Federal Government;

(d) At the time the exchange was deemed necessary because of an immediate need for public school revenues and because the majority of the original federal land grant for common schools remained unsurveyed and unsold;

(e) Unlike certain other states, such as New Mexico, Nevada received no land grants from the Federal Government when Nevada was a territory;

(f) Nevada received no land grants for insane asylums, schools of mines, schools for the blind and deaf and dumb, normal schools, miners' hospitals or a governor's residence as did states such as New Mexico; and

(g) Nevada thus received the least amount of land, 2,572,478 acres, and the smallest percentage of its total area, 3.9 percent, of the land grant states in the Far West admitted after 1864, while states of comparable location and soil, namely Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, received approximately 11 percent of their total area in federal land grants.

2. The State of Nevada has a legal claim to the public land retained by the Federal Government within Nevada's borders because:

(a) In the case of the State of Alabama, a renunciation of any claim to unappropriated lands similar to that contained in the ordinance adopted by the Nevada constitutional convention was held by the Supreme Court of the United States to be "void and inoperative" because it denied to Alabama "an equal footing with the original states" in Pollard v. Hagan, 44 U.S. (3 How.) 212 (1845);

(b) The State of Texas, when admitted to the Union in 1845, retained ownership of all unappropriated land within its borders, setting a further precedent which inured to the benefit of all states admitted later "on an equal footing"; and

(c) The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, adopted into the Constitution of the United States by the reference of Article VI to prior engagements of the Confederation, first proclaimed the "equal footing" doctrine, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, by which the territory including Nevada was acquired from Mexico and which is "the supreme law of the land" by virtue of Article VI, affirms it expressly as to the new states to be organized therein.

3. The exercise of broader control by the State of Nevada over the public lands within its borders would be of great public benefit because:

(a) Federal holdings in the State of Nevada constitute 86.7 percent of the area of the State, and in Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties the Federal Government controls from 97 to 99 percent of the land;

(b) Federal jurisdiction over the public domain is shared among 17 federal agencies or departments which adds to problems of proper management of land and disrupts the normal relationship between a state, its residents and its property;

(c) None of the federal lands in Nevada are taxable and Federal Government activities are extensive and create a tax burden for the private property owners of Nevada who must meet the needs of children of Federal Government employees, as well as provide other public services;

(d) Under general land laws only 2.1 percent of federal lands in Nevada have moved from federal control to private ownership;

(e) Federal administration of the retained public lands, which are vital to the livestock and mining industries of the State and essential to meet the recreational and other various uses of its citizens, has been of uneven quality and sometimes arbitrary and capricious; and

(f) Federal administration of the retained public lands has not been consistent with the public interest of the people of Nevada because the Federal Government has used those lands for armament and nuclear testing thereby rendering many parts of the land unusable and unsuited for other uses and endangering the public health and welfare.

4. The intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States was to guarantee to each of the states sovereignty over all matters within its boundaries except for those powers specifically granted to the United States as agent of the states.

5. The attempted imposition upon the State of Nevada by the Congress of the United States of a requirement in the enabling act that Nevada "disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory," as a condition precedent to acceptance of Nevada into the Union, was an act beyond the power of the Congress of the United States and is thus void.

6. The purported right of ownership and control of the public lands within the State of Nevada by the United States is without foundation and violates the clear intent of the Constitution of the United States.

7. The exercise of such dominion and control of the public lands within the State of Nevada by the United States works a severe, continuous and debilitating hardship upon the people of the State of Nevada.

(Added to NRS by 1979, 1362)



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