Ecoliteracy Challenges in Las Vegas: A Call to Action

As one of the most vibrant cities in the world, Las Vegas is a unique place with its own set of environmental challenges. With its rapid growth and extreme temperatures, it is increasingly important to address these issues in order to ensure that both people and nature can thrive. The Nevada Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), North America Cities, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV), and the University of Southern California (USC) have come together to create an innovative partnership to reimagine the city of Las Vegas. The project was sponsored by the Nevada Division of Forestry and included local landscape architect Cecilia Schafler, Dr.

Jonathan Eyer from USC, and Dak Kopec, associate professor at the UNLV School of Architecture. Adjunct professor Phillip Zawarus from TNC provided information during the development of the class curriculum, as well as staff resources to act as “visiting instructors”. Len Warren from the Nevada Chapter taught field classes to teach students how to incorporate ecological planning into landscape design to create functional urban habitats for resident and migratory birds, as well as other wild animals. The students developed a design model for the parking lots of the UNLV campus that addressed issues related to urban stormwater, heat islands, air pollution, wildlife habitat, public health and safety.

They also quantified ecosystem service and public health benefits to show the ecological and economic performance of their designs. This collaboration is an exciting step towards creating functional habitats right here in Las Vegas. The next step is to turn this vision into reality with demonstration projects. TNC is working with UNLV to make these design concepts a reality across the valley.

Using science, we can calculate the benefits of nature for residents and wildlife and bring these innovative designs to new developments in homes, schools, parks and other urban spaces. The Nature Conservancy has a long history of conserving Las Vegas' incredible natural areas such as Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Walking Box Ranch. However, our commitment to conservation in the city itself has been limited until now. A park in the heart of downtown Las Vegas helped connect people to each other and to nature.

The Mojave Desert is one of the most promising areas in the world for solar energy development and we are working to ensure that this development is carried out in a way that protects its unique landscapes and ecology. You can help turn designs into reality by donating today. Balancing growth and climate change has posed a formidable challenge for Carson City legislators who addressed multiple environmental issues and expanded conservation efforts during their recent legislative session. Dotted with yuccas, an arid landscape stretching miles south of Las Vegas along I-15 is being considered for a new suburb.

Las Vegas is ranked 12th on the list of most polluted cities in the United States by ozone according to the American Lung Association. With its rapid growth comes an increased need for ecological literacy among young people so they can be prepared for future environmental challenges. Last year temperatures reached 116°F (46.6°C) in June setting a new record for such dangerously hot weather earlier in the year. The ideas presented represent a kind of “extreme urban remodeling” which can relatively quickly transform Las Vegas parking lots into a habitat for wildlife while also benefiting people. To support learning that prepares young people for ecological challenges educators must cultivate their own ecological literacy. The time has come for us to take action on ecoliteracy challenges in Las Vegas! We must come together as a community to ensure that both people and nature can thrive in this unique city.

By donating today, you can help turn innovative designs into reality across the valley. We must also work together to educate our youth on ecological literacy so they can be prepared for future environmental challenges. Let's join forces and make a difference today!.

Harriet Fabros
Harriet Fabros

Total music enthusiast. General web maven. Incurable social media enthusiast. Evil reader. Evil food fanatic. Friendly travel practitioner.