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Las Vegas police step up patrols near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Posted at 1:40 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 00:36:52-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas police are stepping up patrols near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area as people pack the public lands in the area.

The Saturday before Red Rock’s scenic loop was closed, BLM officials say 10,000 people entered into the conservation area where there are only 800 parking spots.

“Way too many people going out there. We have 3.2 million acres of public land and everyone seems to be going to the same 13,000 acres,” said Bureau of Land Management public affairs specialist John Asselin.

After Red Rock’s scenic loop closed, people started flocking to Calico Basin.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police say they’re dealing with a spike in off-roading, target shooting, camping, and illegal dumping. All of those activities can result in 6 months in jail or $1,000 fine.

Target shooting is legal outside of the valley when it is a half-mile from a state highway or 500 feet from a road. It is illegal to shoot near a residential area.

People who live along Calico Basin Road are seeing crowds of people in their backyard.

“It was like Disneyland on steroids. It seemed like hundreds of thousands of people,” said Susan Sellmann.

Sellmann worries about the impact crowds will have on protected land.

“They just don’t have respect for the desert like they should. When you’ve got that many people trying to enjoy this tiny little space because it’s the only place they can go, the impact is just too great. The desert is so fragile, it takes such a long time to regenerate itself,” Sellmann added.

Officials at the Bureau of Land Management share those concerns. Asselin says a small number of people can create a big problem when they’re not respecting park rules.

Some still consider the trail closures an overreach.

“We’re baffled and disappointed,” said two women who drove to Red Rock for a hike on Wednesday. “I’m just not seeing that people are infracting for there to be patrols. People out here are extremely well behaved.”