LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As the nation honors former Sen. Harry Reid, Nevadans continue to look back on his legacy here in the Silver State.
"Harry Reid did more than anyone in history to protect the precious, beautiful land that he loved, the state of Nevada," said Jon Christensen, assistant professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Luskin Center for Innovation, and Center for Digital Humanities at UCLA.
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Christensen, who's known Reid since the '90s, says his long-lasting legacy will be seen through the lands and waters he helped protect. Reid changed the way the world and the nation saw his home state, Christensen said.
Nevada "was perceived as a wasteland suitable for blowing up bombs and atomic testing and, you know, establishing a vast network of Amex missiles — which, you know, thankfully never came to be," he said. "He (Reid) changed that image, starting with Great Basin National Park and then with protecting wilderness and protecting the rivers and lakes."
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Christensen's latest documentary work, "Earth Focus: The New West and the Politics of the Environment," dives deeper into the politician who grew up in an Old West mining town, saw the possibility of a new West emerging in Nevada, and rode that change to power.
The 85-minute documentary highlights the struggles and push Reid made to preserve and protect Nevada land.
"Harry Reid's passing has left a great void — not only in Nevada, but in the wider American West and in our country," Christensen said. "He showed in his career that there is a pragmatic environmental path in politics, that negotiation and compromise can find a solution."