BLM responds to Yerington man's charges

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Federal officials won't invalidate four public meetings on a plan to remove water from Walker River to protect Walker Lake's ecosystem, but they will extend the comment period.

Responding to demands from a group representing domestic well users in Mason Valley, Bureau of Land Management Carson City Field Office Manager John Singlaub said four previous meetings were "absolutely done correctly. We are not going to declare them null and void."

Yerington resident David Haight had claimed information at public meetings was inconsistent and the proposal to save Walker Lake as a fresh water fishery is unrealistic.

Walker, as director of Domestic Action on Wells Group, had sent a letter to Singlaub ask the BLM to:

- Void the previous "scoping" meetings

- Hold four new public meetings

- Stop an environmental study until it can be proven that the Walker Lake proposal is feasible.

Haight claims BLM failed in some public presentations to talk about the necessity of a one-time supplement of 450,000 acre feet of water to the lake, in addition to an annual increase of 47,000 acre feet. He also claims sources used to derive this figure were not made available to the public.

An outspoken critic of taking water from the Walker River basin, Haight is concerned the loss would affect domestic wells.

He also claims the project would not lower the salinity of the lake enough to meet the government's goals.

Singlaub said Haight's claim regarding the 470,000 acre feet is wrong and that the information was in all four presentations.

"David's letter was just one of many. We do need to clarify his concerns. We will review it and consider a response," Singlaub stated.

Lyon County commissioners have also asked the BLM for additional time to review the proposal.

Singlaub said "the schedule will be extended to allow time for boards of commissioners and other agencies to review our findings and to put together alternative plans." A new deadline hasn't yet been set.

"We have gotten a lot of good input from the public," Singlaub added. "We would like to work with the Walker River Advisory Committee and review the study done by Resource Concepts that looked into options of increasing flows in the lake."

Funded by the Energy and Development Appropriations Act of 1998 and administered by BLM, the eight-member, multi-agency Walker River Advisory Committee represented interests within the Walker river watershed. The general consensus of the committee was the study did little to determine any realistic and cost efficient measures to enhance the viability of the lake.


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