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New group to look at open space preservation

by Christy Chalmers

A group of Douglas County residents will continue searching for ways to preserve undeveloped land.

The residents are calling themselves the Douglas County Open Space Preservation Committee and plan to meet once a month, said chairman and Gardnerville resident Terry Faff.

“Our next priority is to have a general meeting to come up with objectives,” he said. “We’re trying not to get the cart before the horse.”

The group formed Wednesday night and is planning to meet again Feb. 28. The effort grew out of two meetings sponsored by the Business Council of Douglas County in the wake of an unsuccessful effort to raise the county’s sales tax rate a quarter-cent. Voters rejected the increase in November by a 56 to 44 percent margin.

Proponents of the increase hoped to use the proceeds to preserve undeveloped land. Opponents said other options should be considered.

The Business Council, which opposed the tax, organized meetings to gauge interest in pursuing other options. Council President Rudy McTee said the job of investigating those options will now fall to the new group.

Faff predicted 15 to 20 people will be active with the new group. They include Steve Lewis, who chaired the committee that lobbied for the sales tax.

“I think everybody is anxious to proceed and get something going,” said Lewis. “I’m determined to stay on as long as it takes.”

Jacques Etchegoyhen, a Douglas County commissioner and Nevada director for the American Land Conservancy, said he will support the group. He was also on the previous committee.

“The effort needs to move forward,” he said. “The vast majority of residents want it to move forward. I’ll be involved if that seems like the helpful thing to do.”

Lewis said the group will review the county’s open space plan, then determine its own goals. A priority will be defining open space, he said.

The process could take several months, but Lewis is confident action will result.

“This whole question really generated a lot of awareness and enthusiasm to do something to preserve our open space and ag land,” he said. “I know it’s important for the people in our community.”