Carson to get $1.3 million from BLM for open-space purchase

Carson City officials learned Tuesday the city would recoup an estimated $1.3 million from the Bureau of Land Management for purchasing 62 acres two years ago with promises that the bureau would buy it for preservation.

U.S. Dept. of Interior Secretary Gale Norton revealed plans to spend $111 million on buying environmentally sensitive lands, including several in Carson City, using funds from the sale of public land in Las Vegas Valley.

After four attempts to be repaid for the land purchase, Open Space Manager Juan Guzman said the city expects to gain as much as $2.5 million for the land and other projects approved following the announcement.

"It's a combination of almost two years of work, and for a while it appeared there was not going to be a whole bunch of hope we'd recoup our investment in the Bernhard property," Guzman said.

"It will reassure the city fathers that, in fact, there is a level of trust that can be maintained when we engage in projects that involve more than one partner."

The 62 acres was purchased by the city at the bureau's request in June 2001 after owner Al Bernhard sought to build homes on the property. The land on the west side of Carson River Road is bordered on three sides by BLM property, including Silver Saddle Ranch to the south and west.

The Bernhard property was the last parcel needed to piece together the Prison Hill Recreation Area south and west of Carson River Road.

Norton issued a list of 50 projects it would fund in its fourth-round of disbursements under the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. The list included several important land purchases to set aside lands rich in recreational, scenic and environmentally sensitive values in Carson City. The Bernhard purchase ranked 20th.

It could take two years before the city is able to sell the Bernhard property to the government, Guzman said.

Funding will also be given to five other projects in Carson City. Those include:

n Steidley property purchase - The U.S. Forest Service asked the government to purchase 137 acres in the Clear Creek Basin. The forested property is bisected by Highway 50 and Old Clear Creek Road and provides bike trails and scenic values. The estimated value is $222,000.

n Howard property - BLM requested funding this 52-acre parcel along Carson River. The properly, valued at $155,000, is home to eagles, deer, rabbits, wild horses and other wildlife.

n Dombrowski property - BLM asked for $201,000 to fund this property along the Carson River that provides scenic value to the area and contains a cottonwood forest.

n Gilbert property - Carson City applied for funding for this 40-acre property adjacent to U.S. Forest Service and BLM lands. Owned by the Carson City Utility District, the land provides watershed conservation riparian zone and is bisected by Kings Canyon Road. The purchase would allow public access to a network of pedestrian trails that cross Borda Meadow. Many sensitive species live on the property, including the California spotted owl, Carson Valley silver spot, Mono Basin mountain beaver and the Sierra alligator lizard. Estimated value of the property is $1 million.

n Swafford property - Carson City requested funding for the 320-acre property in the upper area of Kings Canyon Road, valued at $1.3 million. The land provides a summer range for deer and is home to many sensitive species. It will allow public accesspnderosa pine.

In total, the government plans to spend $385 million in funds raised by the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act in the past year, with some money expected to be made this year through auctions in the Las Vegas area.

Under the act passed in 1998, BLM is authorized to sell land identified for disposal in the Las Vegas Valley and use the funds to buy land and pay for projects that benefit the people of Nevada.

Most of the money from this round of funding, 74 percent, will stay in Southern Nevada.


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