Neighbors question wisdom of land swap

North Carson Valley residents are leery of a proposed land swap between the Bureau of Land Management and Minden industrialist Don Bently.

"Our plan is stop the land exchange until the BLM has a comprehensive Pine Nut plan in place," Stephanie Way resident Michael Arett said on Monday.

Residents gathered to talk about the land swap Monday night and how it could affect their lives.

Arett said Bently's proposal could tie up the entire east side of the Carson Valley, blocking access to public lands in the Pine Nut Mountains.

"The map is huge," he said. "It begins up here at Hot Springs Mountain and goes down to Fish Springs. It is a mile and a half out at the center in a crescent shape out toward the middle of the valley."

Bently is proposing trading 17,400 acres of private land for 32,000 of public land. Bently's five blocks of land are located in Carson City, Douglas, Alpine, Mono, Lyon and Churchill counties. The public land he is seeking is in Douglas and Alpine counties.

BLM Carson District Manager John Singlaub said the swap is a long way from being done and that it will not take the form proposed by Bently Nevada.

"The likelihood all of this happening is zero," Singlaub said. "Some of the proposal is very interesting. There's a parcel on the Carson River very useful for continuing the river trail into Douglas."

Singlaub said the BLM will probably discuss smaller exchanges.

"What we would do probably is pick out an area here or there that makes some sense and do some individual small exchanges," he said.

Arett said his neighbors fear the transfer will cut off public lands in the Pine Nuts to public access.

"We have the horsy people and the motorcycle people and the people who are walking their pets, you've got the whole nine yards," he said. "We're working on getting the word out and letting people know."

He said that nobody is blaming Bently in the issue, but that the neighbors want to make sure their interests are represented.

"We're not saying he is a bad guy, but the BLM definitely needs to protect the interests of the public," he said.

Singlaub asked that people not overreact to the proposal, saying it was still early in the process and that whatever happened would be subject to public hearings.

"It's a starting point," he said. "Anything we would do would be with public process."


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