Wetlands transferred to city hands

Carson City expanded its management of natural habitat Thursday with a 17.62-acre gift from the Nevada Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

The land, which is designated as wetlands habitat, is located between Goni Road and North Lompa Lane in northeastern Carson City. It will be managed by Carson City Parks and Recreation Open Space.

City supervisors unanimously approved the donation at Thursday's meeting. The deal is the third land acquisition since the creation of the Open Space Advisory Committee.

Juan Guzman, Carson City open space manager, said the benefits of the city being able to continue preservation of the property extend beyond public access as a recreational area.

"It's an opportunity for the school district to use it as a resource," he said. "(It can be used) as a living laboratory in the middle of town."

The land was originally owned by Roger Shaheen and was donated to the conservancy during development of the nearby Shaheen Business Park in 1997.

According to conservancy spokeswoman Beth Dilly, the deal approved Thursday is a partnership among the city, the conservancy and the Lahontan Audubon Society.

"The Lahontan Audubon Society is going to work closely with the open space team to enhance the wetlands on the parcel," she said.

She added that the conservancy, which operates nationally on principles of scientific preservation, had acquired the land in order to maintain habitat for a species of the infamous Wandering Skipper butterfly.

"We accepted it at that time thinking there was a high scientific value to it," Dilly said. "That species no longer exists on that parcel.

"Without that species, it didn't jibe with the mission (of the Nature Conservancy)."

With the transfer of the land to the city's open space department, she said the conservancy wanted to show its support of the philosophy of open space acquisition, as well as ensure that the land would remain undeveloped in capable hands.

"This is a strategically located parcel, and it works well for them," she said.

Guzman said the committee is also working to acquire an adjacent 10-acre parcel, which would result in a contiguous park.

Although the land was donated by the conservancy, permit fees will cost an estimated $2,500. Guzman, who toured the site with Army Corps. of Engineers staff, assured city supervisors that future environmental costs will be minimal.

"It can become a wetland jewel; an urban park which people can enjoy," Guzman said.

Mayor Ray Masayko said the acquisition was "certainly worth doing," provided future costs don't exceed the benefit.

"You want to maintain it, perpetuate it and make it accessible to the public," he said. "All in all, you look at it and hope local control will be an improvement on federal control."

In other Open Space news, the department presented its master plan for the recently acquired property sold to the city by William Moffett at a discount. Plans include improved trails, a parking area, and eating areas on the land, which is between Edmonds Drive and Hells Bells Road. There is also a tentative plan to put portable restrooms in place of a more expensive permanent structure. The cost, which has not yet been approved by supervisors, is estimated at $40,000.

Money for Open Space acquisitions was approved by voters as part of the 1996 Quality of Life initiative.


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