Open houses on Douglas County Conservation Bill set for December |

Open houses on Douglas County Conservation Bill set for December

Staff Reports

A series of five open houses are planned in December to provide information and collect public comment on the proposed Douglas County Conservation Bill, first proposed more than two years ago.

“The bill is locally developed, comprehensive federal legislation that will improve public lands management and help achieve Douglas County’s long-term master plan goals for growth, conservation, and public recreation,” said Douglas County Manager Steve Mokrohisky.

The measure would transfer federally owned cultural lands to the Washoe Tribe, transfer federal lands to Douglas County for water resource infrastructure and flood attenuation projects, improve the management of certain federally owned public recreation parcels, address the proposed Burbank Canyons Wilderness Area in the Pinenut Mountains, and provide for the sale of excess and difficult to manage federal lands in the Carson Valley, ensuring that the sales proceeds are used locally to acquire conservation easements from willing landowners in Douglas County.

County officials said the conservation bill balances the county’s development and planning needs with the protection of its cultural heritage, historical agricultural operations, floodplain lands, and natural resources. It will improve access to public lands, and will strengthen the ability of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to focus on their respective core responsibilities of forest and rangeland management.

The legislation empowers the county to proceed in meeting the goals adopted more than a decade ago in the BLM Final Plan Amendment signed by national head of that agency, Robert Abbey.

“This effort began many years ago,” said Jacques Etchegoyhen of Legacy Land and Water, LLC. “In 1998, Douglas County worked closely with the BLM and the Nevada Delegation to develop federal legislation known as the Rural Lands Initiative or Lincoln-Douglas Exchange, which would have provided for the acquisition of conservation easements in Douglas County. In 2000, Congress passed legislation amending the Toiyabe National Forest Boundary so the BLM could acquire conservation easements in Carson Valley. And, in 2005, federal legislation was introduced to authorize the sale of several of the same Forest Service parcels we are addressing today.”

This locally developed federal legislation will help preserve high resource value ranchland and further implement the goals adopted over the last 15 years by Douglas County in both the Master and Open Space Plans.