National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
Partnership header Making music at the Ashville festival, Blue Ridge Parkway
Outside Las Vegas Partnership

Description: Just beyond Las Vegas lies an unparalleled natural environment. Seven million acres of spectacular natural landscapes ranging from flush forested alpine environment to dry desert landscapes - surround Las Vegas. This immense area includes eight congressionally-designated areas: Red Rock National Conservation Area, Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Moapa National Wildlife Refuge and Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge), and an additional three million acres of public lands.

Las Vegas continues to experience unprecedented growth, between 5,000 and 6,000 new residents every month. This growth, coupled with the declining federal budgets and staff capabilities, is impacting the public lands outside Las Vegas. This includes increased litter, desert dumping, graffiti, illegal off-highway vehicle use, other illegal uses, and exotic species invasions.

The Outside Las Vegas Partnership was formed to meet the challenge of conserving the magnificent cultural and natural and cultural resources surrounding Las Vegas. Four Federal land managing agencies came together to discuss developing an interagency public/private partnership in 1998. There have been tremendous results and organizational changes associated with the development of this partnership.

There are two components to the Outside Las Vegas Partnership:

  1. The internal federal partnership comprised of the four Federal land managing agencies
  2. The external partnership of these four agencies with the Las Vegas community through the Outside Las Vegas Foundation.

Internal Partnership: Four federal agencies manage more than seven million acres in Southern Nevada. These agencies are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the US Forest Service (USFS). The federal land managing agencies have been meeting since 1999 to develop collaborative programs and projects that enhance services to the public, improve the stewardship of the federal lands, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their management activities. This strategic, broad-based partnership encompasses interagency program development and project implementation at many levels within the four agencies.

Initially, the focus of the federal agencies was to form a single non-profit organization to support all four federal agencies. In order to do that, however, the agencies needed to form a strong partnership internally. This included interagency management of two extensive and multi-faceted partnerships, the Clark County Multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan (link) and the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (link). These two programs provide millions of dollars for the development of facilities and the protection of rare species and related habitats in Southern Nevada. Over time the Outside Las Vegas Partnership has become more broadly-based.

In 2001, the federal agencies underwent a strategic planning process to determine their collective mission, values and focus areas.

Mission of the Outside Las Vegas Federal Managers: To continuously improve our service to the public, the well-being of our employees, and the quality of our natural and cultural resource stewardship across our spectacular landscape through collaborative decision making and community-based partnerships.


  • We work together to meet individual and common goals.
  • We help each other become more capable.
  • We make our decisions by consensus.
  • Our decisions are based on current scientific understandings.
  • Our communications are frequent, timely, open and honest.
  • We have respect for each other and for each agency's mission and challenges.
  • We are trustworthy and trusting.
  • We value all of our community partners and the contributions they make to our mission.
  • The working environment we create together is non-judgmental, supportive, professional, inspirational, and fun.
  • We celebrate our partnership!
  • To expedite the resolution of public land issues.
  • To leverage agency resources.
  • To become a model for raising the community's consciousness about the value of its public lands.
  • To leave a legacy of healthier public lands.
  • To demonstrate the will and fortitude to achieve results.
  • Failure of this partnership is not an option.
During this process, critical interagency focus areas were identified. These are:
  • Fire Management
  • Capital Enhancements / Project Implementation
  • Environmental Education
  • Restoration / Exotic Plant Management
  • Litter and Illegal Dumping
  • Science Strategy
  • Recreation Strategy
  • Diversity
  • Law Enforcement
  • Volunteer Management
  • Cultural Resource Management

The development of interagency focus areas and teams is on-going. Currently, the agencies are considering additional focus areas, such as, GIS, Interagency Program Administration, and others.

Interagency teams have been working within these focus areas for various lengths of time and with varying degrees of progress. Each team developed, or is in the process of developing, an interagency mission, goals and annual work plan. Some teams have had significant success in developing on-the-ground results.

Conservation Initiatives Financing: In November 2002, Congress passed legislation that allows 10% of available funds in the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act Special Account to be used for the implementation of Conservation Initiatives on federal lands in Southern Nevada. The Account is the beneficiary of the sale of valuable public lands surrounding rapidly growing Las Vegas. Conservation Initiatives are "federal agency activities which promote conservation on federal lands including planning, implementation, monitoring, and delivery of programs, such as, but not limited to, litter and desert dumping clean-up and prevention, natural and cultural resource protection, recreation, habitat restoration, environmental education, volunteerism and site stewardship". In FY2003, the federal agencies, through their interagency teams submitted over $32 million in proposals to support the goals and work plans of the interagency teams. A synopsis of the Conservation Initiative can be found at These proposals define the next steps for each of the interagency teams.

The Conservation Initiatives will result in the accelerated progress of the interagency teams and the federal managers and define discussions on interagency structures, systems and office arrangements. Most Conservation Initiatives will result in the addition of one contracted team leader responsible for implementation of the Conservation Initiative Proposals.

Administration of the Interagency Partnership: Currently, there is one designated interagency staff position; the Interagency Partnership Liaison (Jennifer Haley), responsible for developing the interagency partnership and public-private partnership frameworks. In addition, an Interagency Project Manager is currently being hired to assure success of the Public Lands Management Act capital improvement projects and a Conservation Initiative Project Manager is being hired to assure the success of the Conservation Initiatives. An Interagency Contracts and Agreements Specialist is currently being hired to facilitate the development of interagency contracts and agreements for various Public Lands Management Act Programs. Lake Mead NRA is identifying ways to augment their existing staff to assure smooth processing of an increasing number of contracts and agreements. Funds are available for each of these new positions through the SNPLMA Special Account and they are actively being filled. Additionally, the federal agencies are considering an Interagency Public Relations staff person and administrative support for these interagency positions.

External Partnership: The Outside Las Vegas Foundation (OLVF) is the primary interagency partner of the four federal land managing agencies in Southern Nevada and is a fund of the parent National Park Foundation (NPF). OLVF does not have its own 501(c)(3) status. The NPF engaged a number of prominent community members to serve on its Board of Trustees. Through a strategic planning process which mirrored the federal agency process, the mission, vision, values and focus areas for the OLVF were determined.

Mission of the Outside Las Vegas Foundation: To enhance the connection between the community and the public lands surrounding Las Vegas.

Vision: Southern Nevadans care about their natural and cultural heritage and participate in the stewardship of the surrounding public lands.

Values: The Foundation meets its mission, vision and goals in a non-partisan environment that is honest, open and collaborative by:

  • Maximizing private and public funds, personnel, equipment and supplies.
  • Engaging the unique and varied talents of the Southern Nevada Community.
  • Promoting understanding between diverse stakeholders and the federal agencies that lead to workable solutions.
  • Working collaboratively with the federal land management agencies.

Focus areas for the OLVF include environmental education and public awareness, recreation, litter and desert dumping, volunteerism, habitat restoration, and research.

Fund Raising and Earned Income Streams: Initial funding for the Outside Las Vegas Foundation was through a three year start-up grant from the Hewlett Foundation for $300,000 that expired in May 2004. To date, the OLVF has raised an additional $450,000 in direct monetary contributions and has benefited from an estimated $1.1 million of in-kind contributions to support its programs and initiatives. The Foundation has also received grants totaling some $150,000. In addition, the foundation has set-up earned income streams including a lodge check-off guest donation program with concessionaires at Lake Mead NRA and the development of an Outside Las Vegas license plate to be available in January 2004.

Geographic area covered: Seven million acres of federal lands in Southern Nevada including eight congressional designated units surrounding Las Vegas, Nevada.

List of partners and relationships: Federal Partners: National Park Service - Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Bureau of Land Management - Las Vegas Field Office, US Forest Service- Spring Mountains National Conservation Area, US Fish and Wildlife Service - Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex. These agencies form the Outside Las Vegas Federal Managers which is the team that identifies and directs interagency initiatives.

Non-federal Partners: The Outside Las Vegas Foundation under the National Park Foundation is the primary interagency non-profit partner to the Outside Las Vegas Federal Managers. Each agency continues to have numerous partners that further their individual and collective missions. Other interagency partners include the Clark County School District, Clark County, University of Nevada System, Desert Research Institute, Howard Hughes Corporation.

Accomplishments to date: The strategic framework for a complex interagency public/private partnership has been laid in Southern Nevada. There has been significant support built for this partnership within the agencies and the community. Through this partnership, there is seamless interagency management of the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act program which generates millions of dollars annually from public land sales and expends funds on necessary agency projects including capital improvements, acquisition of sensitive lands, and conservation initiatives.

Interagency focus teams have been developed which has resulted in significant progress in building relationships between the agencies throughout the organizations, several in-depth interagency planning initiatives, as well as significant on-the-ground results including the development and funding of interagency restoration teams.

Key success factors:

  1. Open and continual communication.
  2. Strong, persistent commitment by the partners even when things get tough.
  3. The substantial project funding for partnership projects by the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act land sale provides.
  4. Interagency Partnership Positions that support the partnership.
  5. Respect for agency and partner differences.
  6. Immediate recognition of issues and timely resolution.
  7. Attention to the partnership is constant.
  8. Agencies publicly and proactively speak as one voice when appropriate.
  9. Regular strategic sessions that continually focus on a common vision.
  10. On-going and continuous review of the partnership.
  11. The capacity building grant from the Hewlett Foundation and commitment of many outsiders to see this innovative partnership succeed.

Frustrations: Bureaucratic processes and systems that do not support quick, efficient development of contracts, agreements, and payments between partner agencies. Slower progress on the foundation than on the federal agencies side of the partnership. Staff buy-in to the partnership and partnership projects is not complete, some staff are feeling maxed out on project management. Federal agencies have different levels of delegated decision making authority. Supervisory buy-in to the partnership in all agencies is not complete. Assuring that non-profit partner activities are constantly in alignment with the four agency needs and vision. Very limited community philanthropic support for OLVF to date.

Most important lessons learned to date:

  1. Interagency relationship must be sound before reaching out to the community.
  2. The federal partnerships require A LOT of time and support.
  3. The partnership with the Outside Las Vegas Foundation requires A LOT of time and support.
  4. Partnership requires continual management and continual conversation.

What would you do differently next time: Invest more time up front to develop donated and earned income financial support for the operating expenses of the OLVF. The OLVF should become solid financial before becoming a strategic community partner.

Suggested resource materials: Lake Mead Network of Parks available from Lake Mead NRA. Numerous books on Partnerships available at on-line bookstores.

For more information:

Name: Jennifer Haley
Affiliation: Interagency Partnership Liaison, National Park Service
Phone/Fax: 702-293-8951

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising _X_; Capital Improvements __; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery _X_; Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration _X_; Cultural Resources __; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management _X_; Planning _X_; Tourism __; Community Relations _X_;

Other _X_ Strategic Partnership

Prepared by: Jennifer Haley Date posted: 01/08/04
Phone: 702-293-8951

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