Feds plan $4 million purchase

Gardnerville, Nev. " Two Douglas County properties have had funding recommended from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act.

The largest property recommended for funding is the 497-acre River Ranch, located on either side of the East Fork of the Carson River on the Nevada-California state line. An agricultural conservation easement would prevent the property's development, but it could still be used for grazing.

Nominated by Terra Firma Associates, the property includes two miles of river front. On the California side, the river has been designated wild and scenic. The East Fork is a popular spring and early summer white water rafting spot, one of the only free flowing rivers in the state able to accommodate the use.

Terra Firma founder Jacques Etchegoyhen said the River Ranch has been ranked at the top of the purchase.

"It was a rather astonishing piece of property between Markleeville and Gardnerville," Etchegoyhen said. "It's a beautiful, spectacular piece of property that you don't even know is there."

According to the BLM, $4.05 million is being set aside to purchase the ranch, which is owned by W.B. Park Land Co.

Also recommended for funding is a 160-acre parcel adjacent to U.S. Forest Service land along Kingsbury Grade. The property includes the watershed for Daggett Creek. The cost of purchasing the property is $389,100.

Not recommended for funding in the latest round is $18.17 million for a conservation easement on the Mack Ranch, which consists of 450 acres near Minden.

Etchegoyhen said he has resubmitted the Mack Ranch three or four times, but that it is a large project and the source of money is beginning to dry up.

Money for the act is raised through the sale of public lands in the Las Vegas Valley. However, the recent economic decline has reduced the demand for that property.

"Land sales in Las Vegas are nonexistent," Etchegoyhen said. "There's a little bit of interest income, but until the economic climate gets better, the money for conservation will be quite slim, too. In this climate, it's good to get anything funded in Douglas County."

However, Etchegoyhen, who once served as manager of the Mack Ranch, said he isn't giving up.

"We're not going to stop trying to find money for the Mack Ranch conservation easement," he said.

In addition to land acquisitions, a program to reduce hazardous fuels at Lake Tahoe received $1.1 million in funding. The Nevada Fire Safe Council sought $7.3 million to build defensible space and create fuel breaks in the Tahoe Basin. Public comment is being sought on round 10 Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act expenditures through May 6.

Summaries of the proposals are available at www.blm.gov/

snplma. Written comments may be sent to the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada State Office, Attention: Ron Wenker, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89502, by fax to (775) 861-6601, or e-mailed tosnplma@blm.gov.


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