Residents give input on Forest Service land | RecordCourier.com
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Residents give input on Forest Service land

Linda Hiller

Hoping the squeaky wheel gets the grease, several concerned and passionate users of United States Forest Service land attended the open house meeting Monday evening at Jacks Valley Elementary School to voice their opinions on how it should be managed into the future.

Representatives from the Carson Ranger District were joined by other area USFS specialists to answer questions, listen to suggestions and record them for further compilation.

“The purpose of these open meetings is to get input from the public on the changing needs of this public land,” said Bill Van Bruggen, a member of the planning team.

“Our goal is to update the plan every 10 years,” he said, “and since there’s been so much change here in population growth, demands on the National Forest and land acquisition, we picked this area as one of the first to be looked at.”

The land use plan should be completed by 2000, he said. Much of southern Douglas County is part of the Toiyabe National Forest, in addition to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and areas around Jacks Valley, Genoa and points south into Alpine County, Calif.

Approximately 40 people joined the dozen or so rangers in the elementary school multipurpose room filled with displays pertaining to land use. Different subject areas – recreation, cultural values, resources, ecology, wildlife, economics, communities, fire – drew different concerns from residents.

Cross-country skier and llama owner, Judy Larquier of Jacks Valley, wrote her requests for more snowmobile-free ski areas right next to snowmobilers who were requesting more snowmobile access.

“We get impacted by the snowmobilers out there more than they are impacted by us,” she said. “When they’re miles away we hear them and we smell their exhaust.”

Both requests will go on record to be used in the final plan, according to committee members.

Larquier also expressed concern with motorized vehicles and target shooters in the national forest land adjacent to her home.

“When I’ve been out walking my llamas, I’ve had ATVs come around a corner and scare my animals so I’ve had to just let them go,” she said. “I can’t wear me headphones and listen to music anymore out there.”

Carson Valley rancher, Arnold Settelmeyer attended the meeting to express some of his concerns regarding grazing and land use as they affect his business.

Raised in the Valley for more than 50 years, Settelmeyer recalled when herds of sheep in the Valley kept the grasses under control.

“We really didn’t have low valley fires then,” he said, “because the sheep grazed on the bronco grass and kept the fuel levels low.”

Earl Griffith, USFS district law enforcement officer, spoke of the land use plan changes from his perspective.

“I handle the problems and mis-uses of the land on a daily basis,” he said. “Because I am spread thin, I depend on locals to call and report anyone breaking the law out there. Many times, people will witness dumping or what-have-you and take down the license of the offenders. We are able to track people down through that.

“We just had a case in the Ranchos where two 16-year-olds turned in the license number of someone dumping oil and it was a tremendous help in tracking down that individual.”

The Monday meeting was the second of three. The first was held in Reno on May 7 and the final meeting will be May 29, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Turtle Rock Park in Alpine County between Woodfords and Markleeville.

“I am pleased with the turn-out tonight,” Van Bruggen said. “This was better than our Reno meeting. We all have the same goal here – to do the right thing for the land. This is public land, after all.”

If you did not attend Monday’s meeting and cannot make the next meeting but still have input on the plan, call Van Bruggen at 882-2766 or visit the Carson Ranger District office at 1536 Carson St. in Carson City.