Douglas lands bill in U.S. Senate
Douglas County’s long-awaited lands bill was introduced Tuesday by Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller, and characterized by leaders back home as an important step in preserving Carson Valley’s agricultural heritage.
In a bipartisan effort, Nevada’s two senators introduced the Douglas County Conservation Act of 2013 to promote conservation, improve recreation opportunities, and provide for development in Douglas County.
“This bill is a culmination of more than a dozen years of work between state, local, and federal officials and I am pleased with the results. Nevada, with 87 percent of our land base controlled by the federal government, has the lowest percentage of private land of any state. We also face one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation,” Heller, a Republican, said in a news release. “I am pleased that this bill will provide economic opportunity while preserving the rural character of the Carson Valley. I look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Reid to pass this important legislation for Douglas County.”
“I am happy to join Sen. Heller in introducing this balanced piece of legislation to promote development, restore the Washoe Tribe’s homeland and protect Nevada’s cultural and natural resources for generations to come. Douglas County is a spectacular place and I commend the local community for all their hard work to protect and promote it,” said Reid, a Democrat.
Jacques Etchegoyhen and his son Dominique worked on the lands bill for more than four years for the county through their business Legacy Land and Water.
He said Tuesday he was ecstatic the legislation had been introduced.
“I am really excited about the actual passage,” he said. “This has been a lot of years in the making. My hat is off to Douglas County commissioners — past and present — who hung on for years to bring this forth.”
The measure would transfer federally owned cultural lands to the Washoe tribe, transfer federal lands to Douglas County for water resource infrastructure and flood attenuation projects, improve the management of certain federally owned public recreation parcels, address the proposed Burbank Canyons Wilderness Area, and provide for the sale of excess and difficult to manage federal lands in the Carson Valley, ensuring that the sales proceeds are used locally to acquire conservation easements from willing landowners in Douglas County.
Etchegoyhen said the bill is the next step in an ongoing progression of implementation of measures for the master plan and open space plans.
“Funding sources have dried up. This is one of the very few, if not the only new funding source coming forward in the next few years,” he said.
“I knew it would take a long time, but good things are worth the effort,” Etchegoyhen said. “The county leadership has been instrumental. I am really impressed with their sincerity in supporting ranching and critical open spaces we take for granted. It’s one more step in a long journey to keep the things about Carson Valley and Douglas County the way we love it.”
County Manager Steve Mokrohiky also expressed his gratitude to the county’s congressional delegation.
“We appreciate the efforts and continued support of Sens. Reid and Heller, and Congressman Amodei,” Mokrohisky said. “Our lands bill was developed from an extensive public process and has achieved broad support from our community. This is a balanced and bipartisan lands bill that encourages development in areas where development is appropriate, while conserving our natural beauty, cultural heritage and water quality for generations to come.”