Ranchers see major issues in river park plan

Local ranchers say development of Riverbend Park, a four-acre area adjacent to the Carson River near Waterloo Lane, could have serious consequences for them.

"We already have problems with kids shutting off the (irrigation) boxes, stealing irrigation boards and monkeying with the gates," said rancher Renee Mack. "When some child playing in your park drowns in our diversion, whose liability is that?"

District Attorney Scott Doyle said the county and property owner would share any liability.

Renee Mack said the county is liable for only $50,000 of any damages.

"People have legitimate fears, that they may be held responsible if someone has an accident," said Tom Perkins, deputy district attorney in Douglas County. "But if someone goes into the river for any reason, they have a responsibility to take care of themselves.

"We can't keep anyone from filing a lawsuit," he said. "But usually it's the person at fault who pays."

Mack, who said she wasn't notified of plans for the park until well after the property was purchased by the county, also has concerns about ranchers' access to the water that's so critical for irrigation.

"If we can't get our water or the liability risks are too heavy, there won't be anything we can do but subdivide," she said.

Lisa Granahan, assistant to county manager Dan Holler, said county officials are aware of the issues and every effort will be made to work with the ranching community.

"I can't stress that enough," she said. "The idea will be to keep visitors contained in the park. This project needs to be a win-win for everyone involved."

Officials are working on the design and plans for the four-acre park include parking improvements, picnic tables, and a splash and play feature that allows people to float down the river within the confines of the park, from south to north.

An application for a $200,000 grant from the Nevada Division of State Lands under Question 1, Conservation and Resource Protection Grant Program, will be submitted in early September, Granahan said.

"There will be more public hearings," Granahan said. "The Parks and Recreation Commission will discuss the project again, before it's passed on to Douglas County's board of commissioners.

The next hearing is expected in September. If all goes well, construction could start as soon as the fall of 2006, Granahan said.

-- Reporter Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.

At a glance

In 2002, Nevadans voted and passed the $200 million Question 1 Bond Initiative, authorizing the state to issue bonds for projects to protect and preserve natural resources in Nevada.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) received $27.5 million to be used for the acquisition of property to enhance, protect, and manage wildlife and wildlife habitat and renovation of facilities of existing habitats for fish and other wildlife.


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