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Desert landscape at Red Rock National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: Protected, forever.

The American business tycoon, Howard Robard Hughes Jr. privately purchased 30,000 acres of land west of Las Vegas, that is now Summerlin, in 1952. In the early 1980s, Summa Corporation (predecessor to The Howard Hughes Corporation) realized the development potential of the land. The community was named Summerlin for Hughes’ paternal grandmother, Jean Amelia Summerlin.

As the decades unfolded and the master planned community of Summerlin evolved many steps were forged to protect the acres of natural beauty on the far west lands of the development which is now Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

In 1988, The Howard Hughes Corporation (Hughes) gave up more than 5,000 acres in a land exchange with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to create a buffer zone that forever protects Red Rock Canyon and the scenic loop road experience. In 2001, HHC donated $30,000 to the BLM for new trail marker signage throughout the Conservation Area.

In 2002, Hughes enacted a second federal land exchange with the BLM. This exchange preserved an additional 1,100 acres along Summerlin’s western border, adding it into the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to maintain the view-shed and protect the lower slopes of the mountains from development.

Additionally, Hughes has long worked with federal and state governments, as well as Las Vegas Paiute tribal leaders and the archaeological community, to protect historic American Indian rock art etched into rock faces along the western edge of the Las Vegas Valley. Hughes is also currently working with the appropriate parties to create an interpretive trail system that will tell the story of our valley’s original residents, the Las Vegas Paiutes, preserving their legacy for many decades to come.

Cactuses in the desert at Summerlin

We know H2O.

Summerlin began incorporating desert landscape into its common areas in the late 1990s, one of the Las Vegas valley’s earliest adopters of the concept.

In 2003, in partnership with Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), Summerlin became the area’s first community to implement strict Water Smart conservation guidelines on a community-wide basis. At the time, this included limitations of where turf could be used by homebuilders as well as in common and public areas, and now includes the replacement of existing turf landscapes with desert-friendly plant materials, including salvaged native plant revegetation. This innovative new landscaping technique saves even more water usage than desert landscaping, with some re-veg landscapes eventually requiring no irrigation at all.

HHC executives have served on SNWA’s Conservation Coalition for years, to encourage water conservation not only in Summerlin, but valley-wide. Summerlin continues to be a champion of this cause, in both new commercial and residential construction.

Family walking on the trail system in summerlin

Breathe easier.

In the mid-1990s, HHC executives served on a valley-wide development industry coalition that drafted the nation’s toughest self-imposed rules on dust control and air quality

Clean air matters:

– Summerlin was the first community in Southern Nevada to incorporate roundabouts into its roadway system, a concept that allowed for better traffic flow and reduced pollution through the elimination of idling at lights and stop signs.

– The Summerlin Trail system provides safe routes where many kids can walk to school safely without having to cross streets, reducing the number of cars on the road both before and after school.

– Downtown Summerlin offers 318 stalls for low emission vehicles, and four stalls with electric vehicle charging devices.

Tom Warden of the Howard Hughes Corporation

Nature, as it was meant to be.

The preservation of our stunning desert backdrop has always been an integral part of our vision, with natural landscapes and topography integrated into the community wherever possible. HHC works closely with federal and state governments, tribal leaders, and the archaeological community to protect historic American Indian rock art along the western edge of the Las Vegas Valley. The community’s 150-plus miles of trails connect neighborhoods and villages, and encourage outdoor recreation and neighborhood socialization. These trails include 10 miles of trail along the completed 215 Beltway, and will eventually connect directly to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

TPC Summerlin and TPC Las Vegas golf courses are Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary golf courses, dedicated to conserving water and preserving all wildlife habitats. In 1998, HHC played a leadership role in the establishment of a development fee to fund a widely acclaimed multi-species habitat program here in Southern Nevada.

In 2008, HHC received the American Trails Developer Award from American Trails, a non-profit organization dedicated to trail interests. The award recognizes well-designed multi-use trail systems, and this was the first time a private developer was ever honored.

Hikers at Red Rock National Conservation Area

Desert Clean-ups.

The Howard Hughes Corporation has organized and hosted many desert clean-ups in and around Summerlin, in partnership with both private companies and public agencies. Through these efforts, hundreds of tons of illegally dumped trash have been removed from the area. The company also encourages, welcomes and supports private groups, such as Eagle Scout projects, to organize smaller clean-ups in and around the community.

Dining Arroyo at sunset in Downtown Summerlin

Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design.

In 2016, Downtown Summerlin earned Silver Certification status in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). To achieve this remarkable certification for such a large project, the following milestones were met:

  • 24.5 percent reduction in energy consumption to optimize energy performance.
  • 40 percent reduction in water use for enhanced water efficiency.
Exterior of Tanager Luxury Apartments

Growing smarter.

By their very nature, master-planned communities employ a variety of planning tactics to ensure smart growth and development in a thoughtful and more organized fashion. As Summerlin continues to evolve, the community is focusing on the creation of higher density urban areas in and around the area, and in the western region of Summerlin. In the Downtown Summerlin area, plans call for numerous multifamily residential options – including apartments, townhomes, condominiums and brownstones – to provide a true, more sustainable urban living experience.