Steve Puterski

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May 17, 2013
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A fish story: Plot sold for this much

The tales do not grow over time like a traditional fishing story.

Outlandish oral histories do not exist because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sells land, not epic tales of battles with indigenous species.

The USFWS is selling off plots of land, a process the federal agency has been engaged with for about a decade. The sale ends at noon on May 31. The money from the property sales is used to cover operations and maintenance fees from the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District among other costs.

Richard Grimes, supervisory realty specialist with the USFWS, said the program was created in the 1990’s and is the only one of its kind in the country.

Interested parties must visit the Fallon office, 1020 New River Parkway, Ste. 305, and pick up a packet that includes a bid registration form. The service, Grimes said, puts all bids in a safe until May 31 when all applications are opened.

The public is free to attend the bid selection.

“The highest bid wins,” Grimes said. “The bids are based on our appraisals.”

The USFWS, Grimes said, has two land sales per year — one in May and one in November — and the current sale includes four plots. The four properties range in size from 29.76 acres to 320 and in price from $52,000 to $180,000.

Grimes said USFWS only does two sales to prevent flooding the real estate market and negatively affecting land prices throughout Churchill County. In addition, the agency does not overprice its lots during good times or undercut the market in bad.

The sales, however, come with the requirement that the agency will keep the water rights associated with the properties to keep in the refuge and Carson Lake.

A buyer, though, can engage in USFWS in a swap, Grimes said. The swap could cut the sale price in half for an equal amount in water rights.

“We’ve been given the ability to impact the project,” Grimes said, “and we can put some better land back into the project.”

A bonus for the Newlands Project, however, is the ability to re-irrigate land that has not been in previous use, he added. The flow of water throughout the Newlands Project led by TCID allows for better delivery efficiency.

Since 1990, the USFWS has acquired water rights for the Stillwater Wildlife Refuge and Carson Lake. The land sale, which was approved by Congress in 1998, is unique to Churchill County and allows for the USFWS to cover costs for TCID’s upkeep of the canals and laterals delivering water to the wetlands.

Currently, the USFWS owns about 7,000 acres of land plus an addition 77,000 within the refuge and Carson Lake. The money generated from the land sales is deposited into the Lahontan Valley and Pyramid Lake Fish and Wildlife Fund, and used for additional water rights purchases for the wetlands.

The money, Grimes said, offset the need for future federal appropriations to acquire and maintain water rights.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated May 17, 2013 12:55AM Published May 17, 2013 10:11AM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.