The Bureau of Land Management expects to be finished with plans to open the Silver Saddle Ranch to the public by August.
The BLM has spent more than two years ironing out details to create recreation opportunities at the historic 703-acre ranch, yet protect its natural habitat for animals from deer to ducks.
Chris Miller, BLM outdoor recreation planner, updated Carson City supervisors Thursday on the BLM's plans. Public comment on three proposals for the ranch ended June 9.
"We wanted to have the community involved," she said. "Carson City has been an integral partner in the process. You have to work with all the parties or you won't have a good plan."
Miller said the bureau would make its decision by mid-July, followed by another 30-day comment period. By mid-August, she hopes to start implementing the plan and have a major opening on Sept. 23, National Public Lands Day.
The Silver Saddle is located along the Carson River between Prison Hill and the Pine Nut Mountains north of the Carson-Douglas county line. It is one of the last undeveloped parcels along the Carson River.
The ranch was acquired by the BLM in 1997 in a land exchange with Perma-Bilt Homes and the American Land Conservancy.
Miller said the BLM had worked closely with the city's parks and recreation staff to create the plan, which will save the land from development and keep the ranch open for fishermen, walkers, bikers, horseback riders, bird watchers and off-highway vehicles.
Miller called the plan "the one in the middle of the road that everyone liked."
"It's best for resources and best for recreation," she said. "This is really going to be a jewel for Carson City."
The proposed plan will turn the ranch into a large urban park and calls for development of parking lots, picnic areas and trails into the Pine Nut Mountains, the Prison Hill Recreation Area and other nearby public lands.
The trail system will mesh with the city's hiking/biking trails. Parts of the ranch will continue to be irrigated, and cattle and sheep will still graze the pastures.
The historical homes on the property will be preserved. Small educational groups will be allowed to camp at the ranch.
The plan also includes preservation and extension of trails into the Ambrose Natural Area north of Silver Saddle along the river.
"This really ties the whole river together," Miller said.
Miller said the bureau and the city hoped to start a foundation that would raise funds to keep help operate the ranch.
Other proposals for the ranch were to limit public access to the ranch and let it return to its natural state, or to create a working educational camp/ranch where the public would pay to learn about ranch life and resources. With either of those options, less of the ranch would have been open to the public.