Scoping meetings set for Pine Nuts | RecordCourier.com

Scoping meetings set for Pine Nuts

by Jeff Munson, Staff Writer

The land use strategy of the 400,000-acre expanse of public land known as the Pine Nut Mountains is about to get an overhaul, and residents are encouraged to participate.

What first began in summer as a three-day gathering of public officials, Pine Nut users and special interest groups has now turned into a full-scale arena of ideas on how the government should manage the land, which parts of three counties.

Representatives from Douglas, Carson City and Lyon County are involved, as well as user group representatives, said Mike McQueen, a planner for the Carson City Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management.

“There is such a diversity of people and organizations that use the Pine Nuts, that it’s important we get as many involved in the process,” McQueen said. “So far, we’ve had good participation.”

Following the gathering this summer, Pine Nut users from off-highway vehicle groups to hiking and horseback riding groups have met on two occasions with BLM administrators, to talk about trail systems and public access.

Public scoping meetings are planned in January and February in Douglas County, Carson City and Lyon County. The Douglas County scoping meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 7, beginning at 1 p.m.

The highest priority issues on the table include management of trail systems, urban interface management, land tenure, Indian allotted lands and the future of wild horse management.

The goal is to have a management plan adopted and in place by 2005, McQueen said. To do this, the BLM will use recommendations gleaned from the various user groups and public officials to shape a new management plan.

Issues key to any decisions will be generated by user groups and in public scoping meetings.

Among the issues:

n Trail systems and trail-use restrictions. Because of the diversity of uses, any future plan will detail which trails are designated for certain uses. Right now, there are two schools of thought, McQueen said.

Some believe the Pine Nuts should allow unlimited access to public lands and there shouldn’t be restrictions on trails. Others think there should be some restrictions on trails, such as trails designated specifically for OHVs such as four-wheel drive vehicles motorcycles, and horseback use.

n Urban interface management. This is where public and private lands meet and the need, some believe, a buffer zone.

“This is something that is affecting a lot of people right now because of the rapid development of land adjacent to the Pine Nuts,” McQueen said.

In the past decade, the BLM has heard from people who don’t want hunting and shooting close to their homes. There have also been complaints that there’s too much noise generated from OHVs and motorcycles.

“The best example is in Johnson Lane area, where we are seeing more and more development,” McQueen said. “A lot of the concern is what’s open space and how communities can continue to grow with public land around them.”

n Land tenure. Interspersed with the 400,000 acres of public land in the Pine Nuts are 11,000 of private land, McQueen said.

What’s at issue is determining what BLM land, if any, is more suited for private ownership and what private land may be considered worthy of purchase agreements with property owners.

“We are looking for lands considered of high public value, such as open space, wildlife habitat and scenic value,” McQueen said. “While there may be some (public) land more suited for development purposes.”

A recent example is an agreement by the BLM to sell 440 acres to developers in north Douglas County.

n Indian land allotments. Throughout the Pine Nuts, there are several areas that are managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The land is considered Indian homestead land. The BLM wants to work with the BIA to determine how the land should be managed.

“It’s a complex kind of ownership, with the land not considered tribal land, but homestead,” McQueen said. “The goal is to work with the owners, the BIA and the tribe to determent how these lands should be managed.”

n Wild horses. In the north Pine Nuts, through Lyon County, there is a herd management plan for wild horses. In the southern Pine Nuts, a management plan has yet to be established.

The question comes down to whether or not the BLM should have a wild horse management plan in the southern portion of the Pine Nuts, mostly in Douglas County.

“There are those who want the horses there and some who don’t,” McQueen said. “What we want to do is reopen the issue, and, based on public input, make a decision.”

If, for example, the people choose not to allow the southern end of the Pine Nuts to have wild horses, the horses will be moved to the northern end of the Pine Nuts, McQueen said.

n Staff writer Jeff Munson can be reached at munson@swiftnews.com

Details:

The Bureau of Land Management will hold a series of public scoping meetings on the Pine Nut Management Plan. The meetings will be held before the Douglas, Carson City and Lyon County commissions.

The Douglas scoping meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 7 at the Old Courthouse, 1616 8th Street in Minden beginning at 1 p.m.

For more information call the Carson City Field office of the Bureau of Land Management, (775) 885-6000.