YERINGTON - The federal government should be barred from removing any more water from the Walker River system, according to Lyon officials.
Lyon County commissioners are sending a letter to the state directors of both the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation opposing the federal government's purchase of water rights in the Walker River basin.
The county also asked for more time to adequately review and comment on the Walker River Basin environmental impact study.
"We need to take action today. This board should oppose the federal government taking any more of our water rights on the river," Commissioner and Mason Valley rancher David Fulstone said. "And their (BLM) agenda is moving this so fast I don't know how we can do a proper job of reviewing it in 18 months."
In an effort to improve the water quality and environment of the Lahontan cutthroat trout, the Bureau of Land Management has filed a notice to acquire water rights in the Walker River watershed as a means of supplying the necessary increase in water flow to Walker Lake.
Residents fear additional loss of water will be detrimental to the agricultural economy, and possibly dry up domestic wells.
Commissioners took no action on the BLM's invitation to participate in the study as a "cooperating agency."
To be eligible as a "cooperating agency," an organization must have special expertise related to the study or have lawful jurisdiction in the basin. According to BLM officials, this status allows a jurisdiction to participate more intimately in the environmental study and to possibly be asked to complete certain project analysis, using their own funds.
A cooperating agency does not give up its right to appeal any portion of the study findings.
According to Fulstone, as of Tuesday, the Walker Lake Paiute Tribe is the only jurisdiction that has accepted the invitation.