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Letter: My track record

To the editor:

I have watched with interest the discourse surrounding the proposed land swap between myself and the BLM. A few observations may cause those opposed to any possible land swap to reconsider their position on the matter.

Land Usage. I own more than 30,000 acres in Douglas County. The vast majority of this property (98 percent) is used for agricultural purposes ranging from cattle range and meadows to crops to compost production. There is no evidence to support the notion that property acquired by me reduces the open space in our Valley and surrounding areas. When I do develop land, it is almost always to put it into some form of agricultural production in an environmentally responsible way. It creates jobs, enhances the environment and often reclaims land that was rendered unusable through previous farming practices that created swamps or harmed the natural balance of soil nutrients and minerals.

In areas where this isn’t appropriate, such as south of Johnson Lane, other compatible development may occur.

Land Access. With the exception of land that could present a safety hazard to people, such as hot springs, land that uses treated effluent for irrigation, areas where cattle are present and areas where machinery could harm someone, my land is almost entirely unfenced. This is especially the case east of East Valley Road in the region where the proposed land swap would occur. Indeed, out of approximately 18,000 acres owned by me in this area, only 990 acres are fenced, for reasons noted above.

I enjoy the outdoors as much as anyone else. For this reason, I generally give permission to anyone wishing to use my unfenced land for fishing and other recreational purposes with some very simple guidelines:

n Be polite and responsible.

n Leave the property the way you found it (no littering, broken glass, etc.).

n No smoking or open fires (to prevent the likelihood of wildfires).

n Please report problems or unusual things to me or Bently Nevada security.

Government Protection. There seems to be an impression that BLM land totally precludes usage restrictions or development from ever occurring. Any Realtor in this area can tell you otherwise. People purchase land bordering on BLM property with the misguided expectations that they are living next to a protected “park” when, in fact, this is not the case. The federal government can sell this land, restrict its usage and otherwise dictate who can use it and how it can be used. The government’s track record of late indicates that our ability to enjoy public land, such as national parks, is being reduced, not enhanced. The visitors touring national parks are said to “spoil them,” the traffic into and out of scenic areas is said to “pollute them” and the general trend seems to be “look, but don’t touch.” I think even “looking” is in jeopardy in many areas. So, think carefully about whether government ownership and control of this land really ensures anything regarding its accessibility to the public.

I have a long-term and abiding commitment to our area, and my son Christopher will have a similar outlook to see that the land is used in ways that preserve and enhance the beauty and ecology of the Valley. I have rebuilt the Mud Lake Dam to ensure the safety and integrity of the structure as well as the safety of those downstream. Many improvements to my land help direct water more intelligently in the event of a flood – something that benefits everyone. Previously unused land has been put into agricultural production in ways that enhance our air quality, conserve our water, control flooding, restore healthy soil conditions and reuse waste that would otherwise go to landfills.

With all the focus that has been placed on suggestions that I could misuse the land, I merely ask that you consider my track record and recognize that government ownership of property does not guarantee the protections that many seem to think it does.

Donald E. Bently

Minden

Oct. 30