Conservation group looks for project manager

MINDEN -A private conservation group has a plan for the Carson River and is looking for a project manager to implement it, but the group's leader says the work won't interfere with similar efforts under way on the upper sections of the river.

The Nature Conservancy, a national, non-profit group that focuses on protecting plant and animal habitat, has received more than 40 applications from people interested in the river job, said state director Graham Chisholm.

The group's ad for a Truckee/Carson Rivers Project Manager outlines a goal of ensuring "permanent conservation management" and lists project components like strategic planning, land acquisition, fund-raising and public outreach along the lower Carson and Truckee rivers.

Those goals are similar to what's been discussed by other Carson River management groups, that are now implementing what they call the Integrated Watershed Planning Process. But Chisholm said the Nature Conservancy is just continuing work it started in 1989.

"I don't see it as a real expansion. It's building on the work we've done in the past," he said.

Chisholm said the Nature Conservancy has been acquiring water rights and wetlands along the lower Carson and Truckee rivers. While past efforts have benefited the Lahontan Valley area, the group has more recently focused on the Carson Lake area south of Fallon, which is also fed by the lower Carson. Since 1989, the group has acquired an estimated 30,000 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is enough to cover an acre of land in 12 inches of water.

"I see us continuing the kind of work we've been doing," said Chisholm. "If there are opportunities to work with private landowners to acquire conservation easements, we would be happy to look at any of those opportunities."

Similar words have been uttered lately by open land advocates in Douglas County, where ranchers and farmers may be offered money in exchange for a binding promise to keep their land in agricultural production and free of houses or other development.

In addition, the Carson Water Subconservancy District is now implementing legislation that will retire water rights that are currently exercised along the lower Carson. But Chisholm and Subconservancy District Manager Ed James said the groups are not duplicating efforts.

"We have talked to them, just to streamline our (water rights acquisition) process to find out how best to do it," said James. "As far as working actively with them, that's something we would have to explore."

Chisholm said he doesn't think the Nature Conservancy's work will move upstream on the Carson. The American Land Conservancy, a different group, has emerged as a possible coordinator for open space protection efforts in Douglas County, and "If there are other groups working there, it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to be involved," said Chisholm. "If there is a role that's different, I guess we could be involved. I don't see us actively looking to move upstream."


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