Some lively discussions at Churchill County Commissioners’ meetings during the last year have centered on the Bureau of Land Management’s Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Carson City District.
The Carson City District encompasses approximately 5 million acres within portions of 12 counties in Nevada and California. The district RMP was created in 2001.
Concerns about revisions to the RMP include limited access and fees for public lands, closure of roads and areas, potential economic impact, as well as hunting and shooting rights.
During their March 7 regularly scheduled meeting, county commissioners heard a presentation from Chief Civil District Attorney Craig Mingay outlining the county’s response to the RMP revisions.
“Our job as the county is to make sure they’re (BLM) taking all of that into account, to make sure all of these people are heard, to make sure everybody’s voice is heard, rather than closing the land just for the sake of closing it.”
Terri Knutson, the BLM’s Stillwater field manager, provides updates during county commission meetings in Mineral County and Churchill County the third Wednesday each month. She returns to Fallon Wednesday afternoon for the commissioners’ next regular scheduled meeting.
Knutson has said at previous county commission meetings the BLM is not an agency that usually closes areas.
“Public lands belong to everyone,” she said this week from her Carson City office. “It isn’t easy, especially when you take into consideration local folks have been making a living off of and recreating on these lands for decades, and in some cases, for generations.”
Mingay pointed out during his presentation the BLM is required to use and observe the principles of multiple use and sustained yield; use a systematic and interdisciplinary approach to integrate sciences; priority to designated Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC); rely on an inventory of public lands, their resources and other values; consider present and potential uses of public lands.
Contrary to some of the concerns about government overreach, however, there are times when environmental or other groups that use litigation to close off certain trails and areas, Mingay acknowledged.
“The objective is to manage the land in such a way that resource is still there (for use) in 25 years.”
There are many people that want to use public lands — horseback riders, off road vehicle enthusiasts and general outdoors enthusiasts to name just a few.
“It’s a real challenge to find that balance where you can manage it to everyone’s satisfaction,” Mingay said.
Work on the RMP is ongoing and scheduled for completion by late 2015, Knutson observed.
“We’re looking to have a draft (of the RMP) out to the public this fall,” she said, adding the draft will contain specific proposed action.
At that point, another round of public meetings will be held to receive input from the various communities.
“Folks will have something to bite into at that time,” she said.
At the commissioners’ April 20, 2012, meeting, Stillwater Firearms Association member Robert Clifford voiced his concerns public scoping meetings and comment periods need to be better publicized and bans or restrictions need to be minimized.
“The board (of county commissioners) has stated it doesn’t want roads closed,” Mingay said. “So we’ll be vigilant when they (BLM) start to issue maps to make sure those roads are identified.”
Knutson, who has worked with the BLM in Nevada for 25 years, expressed her attitude about closing public lands from a personal viewpoint.
“These folks are serious about these lands, and so am I,” Knutson said. “I don’t believe in closing off access to lands. When it’s closed, I’m locked out, too. I know there’s nothing more maddening than driving for miles and miles and then coming to a locked gate.”