Hope for best, watch for worst
February 21, 2012
Douglas County commissioners gave the green light to seeking a lands bill on Thursday.
Despite some of the issues regarding the status of the Burbank Canyon Wilderness Study Area, there are things about the lands bill that make sense.
When the idea of doing a lands bill was first floated more than two years ago, people were scratching their heads.
Our most recent experience before this with federal land issues was the controversy over access in Lyon and Mineral counties.
Inviting the federal government to do something is often a recipe for disaster. We also know from our experience with the state legislature that a bill submitted to do one thing can come out on the other end as something else entirely.
But the reality is that 64.5 percent of Douglas County is managed by the federal government. In all 34 percent of that land is under the control of the Bureau of Land Management and 17.6 percent under the control of the U.S. Forest Service. There are also 59,275 acres controlled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
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The key reason to worry about this land isn’t the imposition of wilderness, but the fact that large swaths of BLM land along eastern Carson Valley are slated for sale.
The bill isn’t written yet, but if drafting goes the way we hope it does, Douglas County could have a say in where the money goes from the sale of that land. That would be handy to continue the policy of purchasing ranching development rights and keeping Carson Valley green.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the bill draft does what we hope it does, but we’re keeping our eyes open in case it doesn’t.