About a year ago, we attended a fund-raiser reception for Senator Dean Heller at the Peppermill Hotel Casino in Reno, NV. Among the attendees were representatives of the various OHV user groups such as Blue Ribbon Coalition, the Trail Pac, several land use advocates and motorcycle groups.
Senator Heller spoke about his background, including the fact that his father owned a Jeep and that the family had many enjoyable outings in that vehicle. He told of his absolute commitment to multiple use of public lands.
However, further in his speech, he told us about the need to convey a parcel of BLM administered land to the City of Yerington so that it could be used for infrastructure to support the Pumpkin Hollow Copper Mine. When this mine is in full operation, it will employ about 100 workers at an average wage of $70,000 dollars per year. Since Lyon County has been severely victimized by the current economic downturn (recession), these jobs are desperately needed. At that time, he said that he feared that Senator Harry Reid would demand creation of a Wilderness Area in exchange for supporting a bill conveying this land.
On Monday, June 17, the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee heard S. 159 by Senators Heller and Reid which supported the land exchange and designated 48,000 acres as the Wovoka Wilderness, mostly in the southern Pine Nut and Sweetwater mountain ranges.
For years, Lyon County residents, user groups and other land use advocates overwhelmingly opposed the creation of Wilderness in this area. The Lyon County Board of Supervisors even passed a resolution that there would be no further Wilderness in Lyon County. Subsequently, because of the need for the land conveyance and the jobs issue, the Lyon County Supervisors had to retract their resolution.
Also considered was the House of Representatives bill by Representative Steven Horsford and supported by Representatives Joe Heck and Mark Amodei which is the companion bill to S. 159.
Harry Reid, in his usual underhanded way, is holding this important land transfer for RANSOM.
At this time N4WDA is awaiting maps showing the boundaries of this Wilderness area.
Therefore, although N4WDA is fundamentally opposed to the creation of designated Wilderness areas, we are taking a wait and see position until the entire impact of this bill is understood.
Larry Calkins, President N4WDA