Three conservation easements in chute |

Three conservation easements in chute

Cows graze on the Dreyer Ranch on Wednesday afternoon.

Douglas County hopes that the federal government is willing to trade desert land in Las Vegas for ranch land in Carson Valley.

County commissioners supported three applications for a federal program that sells desert around Las Vegas to raise money for various conservation projects around the state.

While funding also pays for hazardous fuels reduction in the county, most of that money goes to purchase conservation easement.

“Up to 30,000 acres of land has been conserved in Dougls County, which is staggering for the most expensive real estate county in Nevada,” Legacy Land and Water owner Jacques Etchgoyhen told commissioners last week. “We’re up to a fair bit over $100 million, so far.”

Easements purchased through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act allow ranchers to continue to use the land while purchasing development rights in perpetuity.

In January, the Bureau of Land Management sold $74.6 million in public land around Las Vegas.

More than 2,100 acres on three ranches are being nominated in Round 18 of the act.

“This is an example of how landowners are trying to preserve the land,” Commissioner Barry Penzel said. “We’re protecting more land than we’re developing. People criticize us because we’re growing. This shows how we’re growing the right way, slowly, and also growing in terms of conservation.”

According to the Nevada demographer, the county added 65 people to reach 48,300 as of July 2017. That’s still almost 1,000 short of the county’s 2010 population of 49,242.

The three nominations include 1,373 acres of Park Cattle land located south of Muller Lane and west of Highway 88, the 303-acre Dreyer Foothill Ranch located east of Foothill Road and north of Centerville Lane and 500 acres on the former Schneider Ranch above Jacks Valley.

Etchegoyhen showed a photo of the Dreyer property during last year’s flooding.

“Truckee Meadows is going to spend $500 million to recreate poorly a system that we have now that works efficiently and essentially at zero cost,” he said of the Valley’s natural flood control.

“It’s a wonderful thing to hand a rancher a check and tell him to just keep on ranching,” Etchegoyhen said.