Forest Service may sell off unforested land in Carson

Seven pockets of federal land in Carson City and Douglas County will be sold to the highest bidder if the U.S. Senate passes a land sale bill that breezed through the House of Representatives on Monday.

Three acres of U.S. Forest Service land off of South Carson Street, between Costco and the Comstock RV Park, is the only parcel in Carson City included in the bill. Six parcels totaling 225 acres are in Douglas County.

All of the parcels border private land on at least two sides and, despite being Forest Service land, the Carson City lot has no trees.

City officials were looking to buy the Carson Street parcel years ago to give the planned Costco building more room, said Carson City Community Development Director Walt Sullivan. The process of buying land from a federal agency crawled along far slower than Costco's building plans, however, and the city dropped its pursuit.

Carson City has no interest in the land now, and Sullivan said it isn't as commercially appealing as its Carson Street location might suggest.

"It's in an awkward spot. It doesn't have real good access," he said.

The only obvious possible suitors, Sullivan said, would be Costco, the bordering RV park, or Nevada Department of Transportation, which is building a Carson City Freeway interchange right next to the Forest Service land.

Jim Gallegos, manager of the Carson City Freeway project, didn't rule out the property as a future site for some freeway-related work. But, he said, "that parcel is not required for this project."

Other parcels that would be sold include a 28-acre plot near Jacks Valley, off Highway 395; 75 acres near Plymouth Drive; 40 acres near Holbrook Junction; 80 acres also near the junction; and two 2.5-acre parcels near Topaz Lake.

According to the Forest Service, there have been no recent estimates of the properties' value.

The proceeds of the sale would be split among various state and federal projects.

Expansion efforts at the Minden Interagency Dispatch Center, which coordinates firefighting efforts, would receive 65 percent of the revenue; 25 percent would go into a fund for development and maintenance of parks, trails and open space in Carson City, Douglas and Washoe counties. The Carson Water Subconservancy and Nevada's general education fund would each get 5 percent of the take.

U.S. Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., have introduced legislation in the Senate. Congressman Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., championed the measure in the House.

"The lands to be sold ... are in the middle of residential and commercial areas and can better serve the community by providing economic development opportunities," he said in a statement released Monday.


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