The NFL is not only celebrating the 2022 Pro Bowl in Las Vegas this week, but is also working to assist the environment of the local community during their week here.
On Wednesday, the league and the Las Vegas Raiders partnered with Verizon and Clark County Parks to plant 1,200 native plants and trees at Wetlands Park alongside community volunteers and local students. The restoration project is part of an effort to improve air quality, reduce the urban heat island effect, reduce fuels for wildfire and create a wildlife and pollinator habitat.
It will also aim to help improve the quality of the water in Lake Mead, which is the main water source for residents in the Las Vegas Valley. The quality of the water in the lake is more vital than ever, considering the current shortage, officials say.
"The water gets some of the impurities removed by coming through Wetlands," said Jack Groh, director of the NFL Environmental Program. "This is all man-made, and it's such a unique thing to be out here in the desert and all of a sudden, you see a wetlands area. It serves a really important environmental purpose."
Clark County Commission Chairman Jim Gibson – who previously served as mayor of Henderson, Nevada, for eight years before transitioning over to his current role – said he's been pleased to see how much the Raiders have embraced their new home in Nevada, and how the city has responded back to them.
"This is all [about] working to improve and sustain this environment and the culture and the fabric of our community," Gibson said. "The Raiders have fit in so nicely. They really are a resident. They're not a visitor, they're not just a sports team – they are a resident. They are our neighbor here in this community."
The Silver and Black were represented by former Raiders Rod Woodson and Jason Witten, as well as President Dan Ventrelle. The three wanted to volunteer on the project with the goal of not only benefiting Las Vegas residents, but the surplus of 340 species of birds, 70 species of wildlife and 60 species of pollinators that Wetlands Park is home to.
"We're excited to have people from the NFL – people from other teams, other communities to learn and understand how special this community is and the relationship between the team and the community and be part of that and see it first-hand," Ventrelle said.