County receives assurances about Carson River |

County receives assurances about Carson River

by Christy Chalmers

Douglas County leaders are pleased with an assurance that the U.S. Forest Service will give special attention to studying the Carson River for possible wild or scenic designation.

Gary Schiff, district ranger for the Carson Ranger District, and Dave Loomis, a forest planner for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, gave verbal commitments Thursday to evaluate the Carson River system separately, instead of addressing it as part of a larger forest management plan.

Douglas leaders had planned to ask for the concession, which was offered without any prompting.

“I think we’ll all benefit by the result,” said County Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen. “I appreciate your willingness to separate these issues and really deal with it in a meaningful way.”

Rivers can be classified as wild, scenic or recreational, and the categories can mean restrictions to protect the wild, scenic or recreational characteristics.

Douglas leaders were joined by members of the Alpine County, Calif. Board of Supervisors and the Carson Water Subconservancy District, which covers the Carson River watershed areas of four Nevada counties.

Wild and scenic designation could directly impact Alpine County, where the river’s two forks originate, and Douglas County, because of their mountainous terrain.

Local leaders have been skeptical about a wild or scenic listing. Though the Subconservancy District, of which Douglas is a member, has already formally opposed the idea, Douglas leaders have said they want to be included in any study process.

Etchegoyhen said local leaders may have been misinformed about the consequences of a wild or scenic listing.

“There was concern it would come all the way down to Mexican Dam in Carson City. We didn’t know any different, and we’re political junkies,” he told Schiff. “That tells you there must be a profound lack of information in the community.”

Schiff pledged to include the local groups in any decision-making process and said he hopes to foster trust between his agency and the locals.

Loomis said several rivers in California have undergone independent evaluations for wild and scenic status, but there’s no specific schedule for the process. He noted river users, environmental groups and others will be invited to join the process.

“We’ll make up the schedule as we go along,” he said. “Taking the time to explore the common ground is a good move. There is a lot more common ground than people think.”

Douglas County Manager Dan Holler was appointed as a liaison to the Forest Service and is to keep the commission informed of any developments.