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Channel Stabilization

Recycling Las Vegas History at the Wash

On March 13, 2007, the Stardust Casino was reduced to rubble in a grand implosion that echoed throughout the Las Vegas Valley. The much celebrated demolition event garnered television coverage and national media attention with articles in the New York Times and USA Today. When it opened in 1958, the Stardust was touted as the biggest and best hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. As the years passed, it became infamous as the host of Hollywood films and alleged, real-life mafia characters. But like many classic casinos on the Strip, it began to pale in comparison with the newer casinos, and was slated for demolition to make way for progress. The implosion amid the fanfare reduced the 32-story Stardust to 170,000 tons of debris.

What should be done with so many tons of debris? To place it all in landfill would be one way to get rid of it, but it would be a shame for the remnants of a Las Vegas icon to be forgotten. So, to give these old hotels a second life, the Southern Nevada Water Authority works with demolition and development companies to acquire and use the material.

The Stardust debris, now referred to as riprap, is being used to stabilize and protect the Las Vegas Wash channel. This unique program is ongoing and involves several past and classic Las Vegas casinos. The El Rancho Casino, Desert Inn Hotel, MGM Hotel, Castaways and Westward Ho are just a selection of those finding a final resting place at the Wash. In the future, the New Frontier may be slated for use in the Wash.

Demolished hotel material acquisition has proven to be an invaluable method for meeting ecosystem restoration goals along the Wash. The recycling of material on such a large scale is certainly a better alternative to simply land filing the material. The program truly exemplifies the trash-to-treasure ideal, and may serve as an example to future generations and neighboring cities.

Las Vegas Wash capital improvements plan map. Click to enlarge (PDF).

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Las Vegas Wash Project Coordination Team • 100 City Parkway, Suite 700 • Las Vegas, NV 89106 • (702) 822-3300