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Carson Water Subconservancy District reasserts its stance

by Sheila Gardner

Members of the Carson Water Subconservancy District reasserted their stance Monday night that they’re ready to fight off any agency that tries to take over development of a management plan for the Carson River.

“This board is the lead agency,” said Douglas County Commissioner Kelly Kite, a subconservancy district director. “If any group tries to take away our legislative ability, I will go down fighting.”

Director Kay Bennett, a Carson City supervisor, urged fellow board members not to allow too much time to lapse between last month’s two-part Carson River conference and planning the future of the Carson watershed.

The majority of participants at the workshop voted to form a coordinating council with open membership to foster communication throughout the watershed, designating the subconservancy district as the lead agency for the group.

“The momentum needs to keep going,” Bennett said. “We have 120 to 200 individuals in need of some leadership. If there is a void, somebody will step into it.”

Chairman Greg Smith, also a Carson City supervisor, urged caution following a conversation he had with subconservancy district program director Ira Rackley, who was absent Monday.

Smith expressed fears that federal and state agencies would try to usurp the subconservancy district’s authority.

“Before any real hard core decision is made, I believe we should have the benefit of what Ira told me in private. This thing needs to proceed very slowly, very cautiously,” Smith said.

He cited what he called “horror stories” Rackley relayed about similar groups trying to coordinate Truckee River management, but declined to elaborate until Rackley could attend the meeting.

Smith said if the organization involves “every state and federal bureaucracy, it’s not a place I want to be. While you try to build relationships, these people have completely different agendas,” Smith said.

He referred to the Carson River conference as a “bureaucratic love feast.”

“That was the only disappointing thing,” he said. “There were ranchers and local residents, but most of the people were politicians and lawyers. Does that mean I don’t want to be involved? No. It means I don’t want to hear presentation after presentation after presentation. We’ve seen what those have done and I am not that impressed. I want to talk with somebody, not be talked at.”

“I understand the caution,” Bennett said. “It’s become very apparent very early the need for inclusion in the process of people who feel they have a stakehold in the outcome … many, many more things bind us together than separate us.

“Maybe just in the first couple of months, we identify who we are, coming to that point of what is our common vision of the river,” Bennett said.

Bennett counted seven state and federal agencies which monitor the Carson and whom she believes need to be at the table.

“You can’t ignore that,” Bennett said. “You have to get them to the table to tell them what you want. If you don’t communicate one on one on one, they’ll eat you alive for lunch. They are protecting their own turf.”

Board members agreed they have an identity problem.

“Our profile is extremely low,” said Smith. “People don’t have a clue what we do even though they are taxed for it.”

The Carson Water Subconservancy District was created by statute in 1955 and reports to the Nevada Legislature to provide development and protection of water resources in the upper Carson River for the future.

The nine members include two residents each from Carson City and Lyon County and five from Douglas County. Appointments are made by each community’s board of commissioners or supervisors.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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