Stop the swap set for Thursday at Minden Park | RecordCourier.com
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Stop the swap set for Thursday at Minden Park

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

A loosely-formed coalition of outdoors advocates opposed to a proposed land exchange that could take away public access to the Pine Nut Mountains will hold a rally Thursday night at Minden Park.

John Dicks has been one of the organizers of the group opposed to the land swap. Dicks lives in Johnson Lane and his wife owns property in the Fish Springs area that boarders the Bureau of Land Management-owned 32,000 acres. Carson Valley businessman Don Bently has proposed exchanging 17,000 acres of Bently Family Limited Partnership property for the public land.

“Our concern is not that there be just access to this land, because that could be satisfied by providing some corridors off Jacobsen Lane. We think we represent a lot of people, and we use a lot of that land and want to continue to use that land in perpetuity,” Dicks said.

He said the group includes mountain bikers, hikers, runners, horseback riders, off-road drivers and dirt bikers.

“It is in our interest that this land is not private. The best way to serve the people of Nevada is for it to remain public,” Dicks said.

The group will be turning in petitions they have been circulating for the last week.

“This will be the first opportunity to get together since we started circulating the petitions about a week ago. We want to get more ideas from people for ideas what we should be doing and bring people up to date on the response I got from the BLM on my Freedom of Information Act request,” Dicks said.

Dicks said the public is invited to the 6 p.m. rally, no matter what their views. The group is requesting a spot on the county commission’s Oct. 5 agenda to present the petitions, which ask commissioners to pass a resolution expressing their disapproval of the swap as soon as possible.

Dicks said he wrote to the BLM and the Forest Service asking for any documents related to the proposed swap and the planned management for the land that followed the Federal Land Policy and Land Management Act of 1976 and the Federal Land Exchange Facility Act of 1988. He said a Pine Nuts management plan was written in 1982 and the land was determined to be available for sale at that time, but the group will first focus on stopping Bently’s offer before they turn their attention to urging BLM to complete another management plan.

“The BLM has regulations that were pursuant to these two acts. Under those regulations, one of the first things created mutually is an agreement to initiate an exchange. We’re concerned about that. Maybe we’ll focus on that in the future. Gosh, we’ve got to do something to keep this land public, or it won’t matter,” Dicks said.

Dicks said he also received a copy of Bently’s letter of interest which described a plan for the land as a “mix of agricultural and developmental use.”

“And, of course, one of our concerns is they will give it to Bently and houses will go up all on that side. We want to leave it the way it is and use it the way it is,” Dicks said.