Johnson Lane BLM lands may close to campers

A map of public lands proposed for closure to camping.

A map of public lands proposed for closure to camping.

Living next to public lands is a common selling point for homes along the fringes of Carson Valley.

However, there’s nothing stopping campers from squatting on public lands for weeks at a time right next to people’s homes.

Johnson Lane resident James Jackson told county commissioners he’s concerned about campers and off-road vehicles.

He said campers were sitting on public land for four or five weeks before they pick up and move.

Jackson spoke at the Jan. 8 commission meeting, saying they’d met with the Bureau of Land Management and county officials.

He said a map he’d seen would solve the issues residents have in the neighborhood, but he pointed out that he hadn’t heard back from the BLM since November.

Jackson said someone on an all-terrain vehicle was setting off fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

“We don’t want that to happen coming up to Fourth of July as close as they were,” Jackson said.

The BLM is scheduled to give a presentation to Douglas County commissioners at their meeting 1 p.m. today in Minden.

“BLM is evaluating timing and resources for camping closures in the Johnson Lane area,” was the update included in commissioners’ packet.

Under Bureau of Land Management rules, there’s a two-week limit for people camping on public land, and then they have to move at least 25 miles.

The rule is designed to discourage people from living on public lands.

BLM Carson District Manager Ken Collum said in October that the issue is catching people.

“There is no buffer zone on public lands,” Collum said. “It starts right at the fence line.”

The BLM doesn’t issue camping permits, people just turn up at a spot.

But the real issue is that there isn’t anyone official determining how long someone has been at a site.

“It’s a very difficult monitoring situation,” Collum said. “We don’t know how long they’ve been there.”

When one of the few BLM officers responds to a camp site, that’s generally the date that counts as the first day.

“We have identified certain areas we can close to camping pretty much overnight, then when we catch them out camping, we can order them to move,” Collum said.

According to a map obtained from the BLM by The Record-Courier, the region that can be closed runs above Johnson Lane.

Last spring, BLM closed sections of public land in Lyon and Washoe counties because people were violating the 14-day limit.

Spokeswoman Lisa Ross said that prior to issuing the order, BLM contacted people living on public lands to alert them of the impending closure.

She said that the only requirement is BLM publish a notice.

“Closing public land is a big deal,” Collum told commissioners.


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