Body in a barrel tells why Sin City is rubbing out its grass
What's planted in Vegas doesn't necessarily stay there
(A native of England, Matthew Diebel is a veteran journalist who has worked at NBC News, Time, USA Today and News Corp., among other organizations. Having spent his childhood next to one of the world's fastest bodies of water, he is particularly interested in tidal energy.)
He’s green. He’s mean. He’s greedy.
And now the law is after the menace, most prominent in Las Vegas, known as the “outlaw lawn.”
Legislators in Nevada’s capital, Carson City, have passed a statute ordering the gambling capital to get rid of 40% of the city’s grass, the “nonfunctional” stuff that serves to decorate, for instance, housing developments, street medians and office parks. (The rule excludes single-family homes, parks and golf courses.)
Sin City’s swardy sin? You can see it by traveling to nearby Lake Mead, which sits behind the massive Hoover Dam and, together with neighboring Lake Powell, supplies much of Vegas’s water. The depleted condition of each — attributed to global warming — is disturbing, with the so-called “bathtub rings” indicating previous fill levels and infrastructure such as intake valves and boat slips left high and dry.
Even more ghoulish is what is being found on the edges of the receding lake. As USA Today reported, authorities are investigating the discovery of a barrel containing human remains. A boater, Shawna Hollister, told KLAS-TV that she and her husband were docking their craft when they heard a woman scream. They then saw the body, which had a shirt and belt visible, sticking out of a container partially lodged in the mud.
A Las Vegas police spokesman, Lt. Ray Spencer, told the station that the person was probably killed in the 1980s based on items found in the barrel, adding that “there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains.”
But back to today’s victim: the city’s grass. About 3,900 acres of it are due to be removed, which could yield savings of up to 9.5 billion gallons of water annually, or about 10% of the region’s allocation from the Colorado. In the green stuff’s place, owners are being encouraged to cover the areas with gravel and dry-climate plants such as cacti and red yucca.
A return to the type of desert landscape when Las Vegas was founded as a railroad stop in 1905? You bet.