Lands bill moving through Congress
March 22, 2016
A bill in the U.S. Senate that would affect Douglas County lands is hung up behind a bill that would provide water relief to Flint, Mich., residents.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Amodei introduced a revision of the Douglas County Conservation Act of 2015 in the House of Representatives in February where it was referred Wednesday to the subcommittee on water, power and oceans.
Advocate Dominique Etchegoyhen said the bill represents two decades of conservation planning in Douglas County.
"The bill is Douglas County's response to responsibly managing our public lands," he said.
The bill was introduced last year in the Senate and the House.
Etchegoyhen said that a hearing in front of the energy committee resulted in some slight amendment to the bill.
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Rather than try to amend the bill in the House, Amodei reintroduced it in the House with the same language.
Douglas County commissioners Doug Johnson and Steve Thaler met with lawmakers in Washington D.C. last month about the bill.
"All of our representatives are enthusiastic about the bill," Etchegoyhen said.
When asked about the changes, Etchegoyhen said they included adjustments to the Round Hill Pines concessionaire and working with the Dreyfus Estate.
Commissioner Nancy McDermid said she was concerned that the concessionaire seems to have a monopoly at the Lake.
"Not a lot had been done at the top of Round Hill Pines," she said. "It troubles me that concessionaire had monopoly at Lake Tahoe."
Also expressing reservations about the bill is the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, which passed a resolution opposing it not long after it was amended in the Senate.
The resolution expressed concern about 10,000 acres in the Pine Nut Mountains above Johnson Lane identified for sale, including 7,990 acres to be gifted for flood control.
The Sierra Club is seeking removal of the language on the reversionary clause for the 10,000 acres.
Legacy Land and Water owner Jacques Etchegoyhen said that land has been slated for disposal by the BLM for 28 years.
Without the bill, it could be auctioned off with no benefit to Douglas County.
"It would have been auctioned off to the highest bidder with no restrictions on future use whatsoever," he said in an email to The Record-Courier. "It is likely that the new management plan for this region will even add to that acreage for disposal, again to be sold with zero restrictions."
Etchegoyhen said the concern that the land would be sold for development is countered by Douglas County's cap on new home building permits of 280 per year, the only county in Nevada with that limit.
"The developers should be through with the current approved subdivision inventory in a couple of decades," he said.
The 10,000 acres slated for disposal is within a few miles of 14,500 acres of Pine Nut land the Bureau of Land Management is proposing to buy from Chris Bently near the northern Douglas County boundary.