Open-space deal helps protect Carson River | NevadaAppeal.com

Open-space deal helps protect Carson River

by Kurt Hildebrand

Conservation easements rarely provide for people to set foot on some of the large areas set aside for open space. This isn’t the case with the Kirman Field, the 1,200-acre easement proposed by Don Bently and the Nature Conservancy.

Plans are for the $2 million easement to provide access along the Carson River for recreation as well as preserve the area for future generations, according to Conservancy spokeswoman Laura Crane.

Bently donated $500,000 of the purchase price. The rest of the money will be provided by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the Division of Public Lands from a bond fund approved by voters in 2002.

“Each conservation easement is individually crafted,” she said. “This one is pretty unique. Traditional ones include the things the landowner agrees he won’t do. But this one includes things we can do.”

Among those is access to the river.

“The plan would allow trails to be built along the Carson River, do rafting and things of that nature,” she said. “Once the plan is in place, Mr. Bently will fence off his cattle, so people have a place to come in where they won’t have cows grazing and people can have access to the river.”

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To help pay for maintenance, Bently is providing a $250,000 grant that the Nature Conservancy has three years to match.

“The money will got into an endowment and we will use the interest each year to continue to maintain the area,” she said.

In addition to preserving the Carson River, the easement will also preserve the Virginia & Truckee Railroad easement through the property.

“He will maintain the right to grant an easement so the V&T could be rebuilt,” she said. “As gas prices go up, that’s going to be more important to the valley.”

Crane estimated it will take at least a year to work out the details.

“Basically we’ve worked out an agreement on price and to raise the funding for the easement,” she said. “Some details still need to be worked out. We still need to work with the state to get the funding in place. We didn’t know how long it would take to get us the state funding, so that’s why we went a full year. It might get done sooner.”

Crane said the easement will help with the Conservancy’s Carson River Project.

“This conservation easement is really unique,” she said. “The ability of the river to change paths in flood events is something Mr. Bently wants to protect. That’s fantastic for the health of the river to have this part of the valley where it floods and nothing terrible will happen. This property contains these fantastic oxbows that contain habitat for wildlife.”

Contact Kurt Hildebrand can be reached at khildebrand@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 215.

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