National BLM director visits Carson's new wetlands

The turkey couldn't quite figure out what all the hoopla was about Thursday morning. So, he waddled his way into the center of a small group gathered at the Silver Saddle Ranch.

The curious bird couldn't have picked a better group to explain the new wetlands at the ranch.

National Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke stopped by the federally owned property along the Carson River to see firsthand the progress made recently through a cooperative venture between the bureau and Carson City.

"I am just so pleased," Clarke said. Clarke was in Nevada this week to visit several sites, including the Mustang Ranch along the Truckee River, the horse and burro program in Palomino Valley and the Silver Saddle Ranch in Carson.

Clarke said she is a "real believer" in projects like the ranch involving partnering with communities to provide opportunities to enhance the environment and quality of life.

"I feel it's the future," Clarke said.

The Carson City office of the bureau has worked often with surrounding counties to develop recreation, open space and land management programs on federally owned property, said John Singlaub, manager of BLM's Carson City field office.

The partnerships, like the one with Carson City and the Silver Saddle Ranch, are being used as models by the national office for other areas, Singlaub said.

The bureau acquired the 703-acre ranch in 1997 in a land exchange with Perma-Bilt Homes and the American Land Conservancy. Carson City purchased water rights to supply the ranch crops and irrigation.

Recently, the city built a 20-acre wetland at the ranch to meet a requirement by the state to make up for loss of wetlands in the city from the Carson freeway.

The project has been hailed as a success, drawing birds and wildlife to the new pond in the past two weeks. Interim city manager Andy Burnham and Open Space Manager Juan Guzman accompanied the director on the ranch tour.

"For her to make the trip out to see our county is certainly a great opportunity for us," Burnham said.

State bureau spokeswoman Jo Simpson, who accompanied Clarke on the tour, said Nevada was a major player in the federal program. Sixty-seven percent of the land in the state is managed by the bureau.

"I hope she takes back an increased understanding of the issues facing the BLM in Nevada," Simpson said.

Some of the issues currently facing the Carson City field office are management of the Mustang Ranch property, a former brothel with 340 acres along a 2-mile stretch of the Truckee River. The bureau is working on cleaning up the property. The brothels will eventually be torn down, Singlaub said. The bureau is working with e-Bay to sell pieces of the brothels online.

Another project is the future location of a National Wild Horse and Burro center in the Mound House area. The center would hold a museum and adoption center. Officials are expecting to begin construction on the center next year, Singlaub said.

The bureau is also working with counties on a new land-use plan for the Pine Nut Mountains and may have a first draft of the plan defining recreation, property disposals and land use in the mountains by September.

Singlaub hopes Clarke takes back to Washington, D.C., the ideas of "some of the good projects we're implementing here, the strong partnerships making these happen and the support from local cities for the work done in the area," he said.


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