Newspaper column: Nevada public land bills going forward

A package of seven Nevada public lands bills — collectively known as the Northern Nevada Land Conservation and Economic Development Act — recently cleared the House Natural Resources Committee on a 29-14 bipartisan vote.

The package is expected to be approved by the full House, but its fate in Harry Reid’s Senate, where House bills go to die, is murky, as reported in this week’s newspaper column available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Yerington, NV

Among the seven bills in the package is the long-awaited Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act, which would allow the town of Yerington to buy 12,500 acres of federal land adjacent to the Pumpkin Hollow copper mine for an industrial park. It is estimated the project could create 800 to 1,000 permanent jobs and about 500 jobs during the construction phase.

“I would say there is a trifecta of good news out of the Natural Resources Committee in the House this week,” said Rep. Steven Horsford in an interview. “Obviously, I’m very pleased the effort by the local community in Yerington to move forward the land exchange legislation that will create more than a thousand jobs in Yerington and the southern Lyon community. I’m happy that we were able to get a bipartisan vote out of the Natural Resources Committee and I’m looking forward to an expeditious vote by the full House.”

There have been objections from a few Democrats to a section of the legislation that says the Blue Lakes and Alder Creek wilderness study areas will no longer be candidates for wilderness designation.

One of the seven measures actually has already been approved by the full House in H.R. 2954 — the Fernley Economic Self-Determination Act, which would allow Fernley to buy 9,000 acres of federal land within the city limits at fair market value for a multi-use development.

And Democrats are complaining about that bill, too, because it would fast-track logging in the area burned by the Rim fire in California this past year. It also would shorten environmental reviews for grazing permits and stop any further acquisition of land by the Bureau of Land Management until it creates a database showing tracts that are available for sale, according to E&E News. The White House came out against the lands bill, but did not issue a veto threat.

Other Nevada land bills would transfer land to the Naval Air Station in Fallon for housing, transfer mineral rights in Virginia City to clear up title claims, allow Carlin to buy federal land, create the Pine Forest Range Wilderness area and transfer land to an Elko tribe for a motocross track.

Read the entire column at Ely or Elko.

Newspaper column: A tale of a land deal and not one but two wildernesses

Yerington’s past and current congressmen are putting their heads together to try and finally push through Congress a bill that would allow the city to purchase 10,400 acres of federal land adjacent to Nevada Copper’s Pumpkin Hollow mine.

The bill, after years of studies and planning, cleared the House this past summer while Yerington was in Mark Amodei’s 2nd Congressional District, but the town and the southern half of Lyon County have since been redistricted into Steven Horsford’s new 4th Congressional District.

Proposed Wovoka Wilerness area.

Horsford hopes to fast track the bill, which would pave the way for development that could lead to 800 jobs with annual salaries averaging $75,000, as reported in this week’s newspaper column available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press.

One new aspect of the bill is that the Senate version, at Sen. Harry Reid’s insistence, has a provision designating a 48,000-acre wilderness tract in southern Lyon County, called Wovoka by some.

Asked if he had heard of pushback against the wilderness proposal, Horsford said, “Obviously, Nevada Copper has a lot of financing at stake and a lot of risk if the bill isn’t moved quickly … So, no there was no pushback. It was more of a we need to get this done.”

But Amodei is frustrated that the Wovoka designation is on the front burner while a bill on the proposed 26,000-acre Pine Forest Range Wilderness Area in Humboldt County has languished. He wants the Pine Forest Range bill to be on a parallel track to, or even be attached to, the Yerington bill. Read the full column at the Ely or Elko site.

Flowers in a meadow in the Pine Forest Range (Photo by Jim Davis)