Official says it’s premature to worry about land swap | RecordCourier.com
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Official says it’s premature to worry about land swap

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Carson Valley residents are “premature” to worry about a 32,000-acre land swap with businessman Don Bently, a Bureau of Land Management official says.

In a two-page letter dated Oct. 4, John Singlaub, manager of the Carson City BLM field office, says a potential land swap with Bently has been discussed for a few years, but one large exchange was never intended.

“We are a long way from completing, or even considering, any specific land exchange,” he wrote. “From my perspective, the current public outcry against the proposal made by Bently is very premature.”

Residents of the Carson Valley’s east side and the Fish Springs areas have rallied against the idea and expect to collect 5,000 signatures opposing an exchange. Bently’s overture was first publicly discussed in August, when a memo expressing his interest in trading 17,400 acres for 32,000 held by the BLM began circulating.

The memo says Bently is interested in 25,000 acres along the east side of Carson Valley, and the residents are worried they will lose access to the Pine Nut mountains. They are also concerned the land will be developed.

Bently says he wants the land to consolidate his existing holdings and plans to use it for agriculture if he acquires it. He is proposing to trade land in Carson City, Churchill, Douglas and Mono County, Calif. for property in Douglas County and Alpine County, Calif.

In his letter, Singlaub notes that only 3,716 acres of the public land in the east Carson Valley area have been identified for disposal in the BLM’s land use plan. Residents would have plenty of chances to review and comment if any more land is added, he said.

“It was never our intent to consider this as a single large land exchange, but as a pool of lands from which we can discuss future exchanges,” he wrote.

Singlaub suggested a joint planning effort for the east Carson Valley area, similar to the process used for more than 600 acres between Indian Hills and Carson City.

Douglas County commissioners, who received the letter Thursday, said the BLM and Bently should hold public forums.

“Invite everyone who wants to come in, and let’s talk,” said Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen.

“This is not an item that is going to go away,” said commissioner Kelly Kite.

Singlaub previously said the BLM won’t recommend any land exchanges without Douglas County’s support, and he repeated the promise in his letter.

The commissioners are still smarting from rumors that they might support an exchange. They emphasized that the BLM is the land exchange authority, not the county, but said they will fight for what Douglas residents want.