River report's validity defended

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A report on the Walker River basin is a valid view of the basin, according to the author.

Project Manager John Tracey, Desert Research Institute director of watersheds and environmental sustainability, said the report was reviewed by technical peers. He stands by the information in an environmental impact statement.

"This document addresses an overall view of the entire Walker River Basin," Tracey said. "It is a good report and contains quality information."

The report is being criticized by upstream users, who are trying to stop the federal government from purchasing water rights from farmers to help Walker Lake.

Tracy said some errors in the 900-page document weren't caught before its release to cooperating agencies but said it would be corrected prior to its release for public review.

He emphasized the Department of the Interior will make the final decision regarding Walker Lake and the report is simply supposed to reflect what alternatives and tradeoffs are available.

The Desert Research Institute, an autonomous, nonprofit statewide division of the University of Nevada system, was contracted by the BLM to draft the environmental statement.

The document also stirred strong words of disagreement from both local cooperating agencies. In letters of response, the Mason Valley and Smith Valley conservation districts stated the draft document contains numerous sections of insufficient or incorrect data and "inadequately, and in some cases, falsely addresses adverse impacts to the environment and contains numerous technical errors or omissions."

Following an extended review and comment period and after changes are incorporated into the document, an official draft environmental statement will be released for a 60-day public review and comment period.

Upstream activist David Haight claims the report is inaccurate.

"The university's attempt to address the economic impact to both Mason and Smith Valleys is absurd. Existing data that conflicts with data used is ignored. The numbers are bogus. The destruction of both valleys will be total."


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