Forest Service promises cooperation in "wild" deliberations |

Forest Service promises cooperation in "wild" deliberations

by Christy Chalmers

A U.S. Forest Service planner says Douglas County residents and leaders will be included in any deliberations involving wild or scenic status for the Carson River.

The promise was enough to delay a county commission decision on whether to formally oppose wild or scenic status for the river. Instead, commissioners want to wait until September, when Forest Service officials may meet with them to discuss the river.

The commissioners cited a recent conversation with representatives at the Carson Ranger District office in Carson City for their decision. Forest Planner Dave Loomis confirmed the Forest Service is willing to open the river study process to further public scrutiny.

“I think in the long term, our ultimate goal would be for the Forest Service and Douglas County land use plans to say the exact same thing,” said Loomis. “There are endless options available at this point. We all just need to sit down and talk with the local communities and decide what the best process is.”

Concern about the river was stirred by a reference in a forest amendment plan now under consideration that mentioned possible wild, scenic or recreational status for the Carson River. Such declarations can mean varying degrees of restrictions on development along the river.

Already, the Carson Water Subconservancy District board, which includes representatives of Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Churchill counties, has submitted a letter formally opposing defining the river as wild or scenic. The Douglas commission could have approved a similar letter, but board members said they were encouraged by the preliminary discussion with Loomis and the other representatives.

Loomis said the Forest Service has been studying alternatives for the forest plan and the potential river designation. Different segments of the river may fit wild, scenic or recreational criteria.

“The parts in Douglas County could fall under scenic, they could be recreational or they could be none of the above,” said Loomis. “We want to talk more with the local communities and get their opinions.”

That position should soothe some of the Subconservancy District board’s concerns. When the board approved the letter opposing any changes to the river’s status, members said they wanted to ensure local participation in any studies on the river.

Loomis said the Forest Service hopes to have a recommendation on the river by the end of the year, but noted the decision could be delayed.

“If there is more work that needs to be done, we’re willing to look at the wild and scenic river status outside of (the forest plan). We need to look at all the tools available and figure out which ones are the best for all of us,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of common ground that we all share on the future of the river, and we’re just trying to find a way we can work together and build on this common ground that we all have.”