Land Use Update – December 2018

Washoe County Lands Bill

According to Jamie Rodriguez, the Washoe County Management Analyst for Government Affairs(the coordinator), at the Nevada Mining and Exploration Coalition (NMEC) Annual Meeting, held September 9th at the Atlantis in Reno, the County is in the process of getting ready for another round of trying to create this lands bill.

At the meetings, held by Washoe County, on April 16th and 17th at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center, it was very apparent that there was little support by the public for this bill which has two contentious components:

  • The Economic Component: This component is overwhelmingly opposed by the public who wish to keep growth at a minimum since growth greatly affects their lifestyle, the reason that they chose to live where they do. Concerns include loss of access to public lands for hiking, horseback, OHV, etc. Other concerns are traffic, public infrastructure (water, sewer, etc.), viewshed, etc.
  • The Wilderness Component: As of the last time we heard, the acreage of Wilderness to be created by the bill had been reduced from approximately 700,000 acres to 175,063 acres, which we worked hard to achieve and which raises the ire of the preservationist community (note that I refer to them as preservationists, not environmentalists, because we are the real environmentalists) who want to include a whole lot more “W” acreage in this bill.
As of today, we have no timetable for the release of new Wilderness maps by the county but continue to participate in coalitions with other stakeholder groups such as the mining industry, mineral exploration groups, the Nevada Farm Bureau, the Nevada Cattleman’s Association, sportsman’s organizations, many OHV user groups, as well as other interests.

Deer Valley (Eldorado National Forest 42 Trail Closures)

After up to 5 years of closures for the 42 trails affected by the lawsuit brought against the Eldorado NF by a group of preservationists concerning water flow across wet meadows that caused the closure of these trails until the problems were identified and mitigated, the final repairs have been made and these trails are now open to OHV use. The trails that most affected us were Deer Valley (which reopened in August of 2017), the Long Valley Trail (most commonly referred to as the Mormon Emigrant trail) and the Strawberry Pass Trail, both of which were reopened this fall.

Slick Rock Trail

The Slick Rock Trail, located in the Stanislaus NF, faced a land closure of a portion of the trail when the Stanislaus NF and the new landowner failed to reach an agreement on right-of-way. Fortunately, an agreement was made that kept the trail open while the Forest Service, with help from the user community designed and constructed a new bypass around the private property (which, I’m told, provides even a more interesting and challenging portion of the trail). The re-route opened in August.

Fallon Naval Air Station Range Modernization (Expansion)

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was released, dated November 2018. The DEIS proposes three alternatives, all which withdraw public lands from public access, in differing amounts. N4WDA’s concern is for the lands that OHV’s recreate on, specifically:

  • B-16 Range (The Dead Camel Mountains): This area, located between Lahontan Reservoir and the current B-16 Range, which is currently designated as a BLM OHV Recreation Area will be mostly included in the range B-16 expansion of up to 32,201 acres, dependent upon the alternative chosen, which will be closed to public access. This area is a relatively high-use area by all types of OHV, especially those camping at Lahontan Reservoir, and is also used by the Vegas to Reno off road race. Access to the historic Pony Express Trail will also be lost in this area.
  • B-17 Range (Middlegate Area): This area, located east of Fallon, south of US Highway 50 and between State Highways 839 and 361 and south and to the east of the existing B-17 Range (which is closed to public access as it is an active target range), is an extremely popular OHV area for our members, other OHV groups and individual OHV participants. The B-17 Range will be expanded by to the south and east of the existing range and will result in the loss of public access to as much as 267,448 acres, depending on the alternative.
  • B20 Range (North of the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge): This area North of US 50 and to the west of East County road, will be expanded by as much as 180329 Acres, depending on the alternative chosen. This area is not known to be an OHV destination, but, since it is near the Fallon and Stillwater Wildlife Refuges, hunting for pronghorn and mule deer will be affected.

The public comment period is now open and will close January 15, 2018.

The Navy is holding seven public meetings on the following dates at the following sites:

Monday, December 10, 10AM-1PM
Hawthorne Convention Center
932 E St.
Hawthorne, NV 89415
Monday, December 10, 5-8PM
Gabbs School Gymnasium
511 E Ave.
Gabbs, NV 89409
Tuesday, December 11, 10AM-1PM
Austin Town Hall
135 Court St.
Austin, NV 89310
Tuesday, December 11, 5-8PM
Eureka Opera House
31 S. Main St.
Eureka, NV 89316
Wednesday, December 12, 5-8PM
Fallon Convention Center
100 Campus Way
Fallon, NV 89406
Thursday, December 13, 10AM-1PM
C Punch Inn and Casino
Kumiva Room
1420 Cornell Ave.
Lovelock, NV 89419
Thursday, December 13, 5-8PM
West 2nd Street Events Center
600 W. 2nd St.
Reno, NV 89503

Additional information about the Fallon Range Expansion, including the entire DEIS, can be had at www.frtcmodernization.com.

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