Smallwood Foundation awards $10,000 grant |

Smallwood Foundation awards $10,000 grant

by Christy Chalmers

An inventory of Carson Valley habitats could be completed by the end of the summer, providing information that could be used to guide open space preservation efforts.

The Nature Conservancy, a private non-profit organization that focuses on conservation, is planning to do a conservation plan for the Valley. Ame Hellman, special projects director for the group’s Nevada chapter, said the work is part of a project that will be funded with a $10,000 grant from the Smallwood Foundation.

The conservation plan will list and evaluate different habitats in the Carson Valley. The habitat locations can be compared with the Carson River’s floodplain, and the resulting information could help conservation groups decide where to focus their efforts.

“It’s like an overview of the whole Valley,” said Hellman. “It allows us to use the site plan like a road map as to what we would be interested in holding.”

The Nature Conservancy is one of several groups interested in preserving Carson Valley’s undeveloped land. A semi-private coalition of ranchers, business people and residents has been meeting for over a year to discuss strategies for keeping development at bay.

County leaders are considering asking voters for a tax increase whose proceeds would help pay to preserve open space. Potential options for protecting the open space include land exchanges and the purchase of conservation easements, in which land owners are paid to keep their property undeveloped.

Hellman said all the groups can use The Nature Conservancy’s conservation plan information when its complete.

“It’s going to be a great tool for the Bureau of Land Management to look at, as well as Douglas County as they consider what to do if the quarter-cent sales tax is passed,” she said.

The conservation plan is one of three components of The Nature Conservancy’s Carson Valley project. The others involve lining up support and funding and working with the county and other groups interested in preserving open space.

The Nature Conservancy plan outline also includes an offer to help establish a land trust to help with preservation and keep a list of “conservation buyers” for “biologically significant” property that may come up for sale in the Carson Valley.

Hellman said the group has been trying to raise $60,000 for its first year of work and is close to that goal.