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Legislators tour Douglas County

by Sheila Gardner

With the Carson Valley as a backdrop, rancher James Settelmeyer made his pitch to the captive audience of Nevada legislators Thursday, huddled together on a windswept Kingsbury Grade turnout.

“If you like that view, if you like it as we do, you will support our efforts with Assembly Bill 504 to buy open space,” said Settelmeyer, whose family has ranched in Carson Valley for generations.

The legislators were part of state Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen’s rural Nevada legislative tour. As he has in past legislative sessions, Jacobsen guided a tour for his Assembly and Senate colleagues, many of them from southern Nevada and getting their first look at Douglas County.

Settelmeyer was lobbying for the Assembly proposal, introduced by Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, which would ask taxpayers to approve a tax increase for the purchase of agriculture lands to keep that property in open space.

“You can see the benefit of green,” he said, as the tour members gazed over the Carson Valley from their vantage point on Kingsbury Grade.

On behalf the the Carson Valley Conservation District, Settelmeyer passed out bumper stickers which read “Cows, Not Condos.”

County Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen, also a rancher, used what he termed the “Kodak moment” to address the group about the rural lands initiative and two upcoming workshops focusing on preserving agricultural land and open space in the Carson Valley.

“We’re trying to cajole the federal government into selling 16,000 acres in Lincoln County,” Etchegoyhen said, explaining that money from the sale would be used to buy development rights from ranchers in Douglas County, thus paying the ranchers to keep their property in agriculture and insuring that the Valley would stay green.

“There would be no net increase in federal land in Nevada,” Etchegoyhen said.

Jacobsen’s tour, which began with lunch at the Northern Nevada Correctional Facility in Carson City, ended with dinner at the JT Basque Restaurant in Gardnerville.

Stops along the way included the correctional center, Genoa Fire Station, Kingsbury Grade, the Sierra Front Interagency Fire Dispatch and Air Operations Center near the Douglas County Airport, Western Nevada Community College Douglas campus, Bently Science Park, Bently Agridynamics agriculture, irrigation and compost operations, Dangberg Home Ranch, flood repairs along the Carson River and China Spring Youth Camp.

Dorothy Heise entertained her companions on one of the two buses with stories about the Dangberg Home Ranch.

n Soap opera. “It was a soap opera there with all the sadness and happiness,” she said. “Herbert Hoover, Will Rogers and Clark Gable were all visitors to the house.”

The property was the home of Minden pioneer H.F. Dangberg and his descendants. It currently is before the Nevada Supreme Court, the subject of litigation over whether it’s to become a historical park or remain in private ownership.

About 75 people filled two buses for the tour, including Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, Douglas County’s five commissioners, and state and county officials.

Dan Kaffer, Western Nevada Resource Conservation and Development area coordinator, helped arrange the tour.

“The tour was a success from my standpoint,” Jacobsen said Friday. “We weren’t pushing legislation of any type. Nobody could say we were trying to whitewash them. I wanted to show them how user-friendly we are in the rural areas.”

Jacobsen has been leading the rural tours since 1971.