Douglas lands bill arrives in Congress

A lands bill proposed for Douglas County was introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Douglas County Conservation Act of 2015, S. 472, was introduced in Congress on Friday by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City.

The bill has been in the works for more than five years, and has cost the county about $800,000 to prepare.

“The Douglas County Conservation Act is the result of a thorough, public process that included local input, public meetings, and support from Douglas County officials and residents,” Heller said. “The results were positive, and I am certainly pleased to work alongside Senator Reid and Congressman Amodei on this important legislation. With over 85 percent of Nevada controlled by the federal government, it is imperative we collaborate at all levels in order to provide economic opportunity while ensuring the rural character of the Carson Valley remains intact.”

Amodei also praised the process that brought the lands bill to Congress.

“This legislation is the result of a bottom-up approach, directed by the people of Douglas County, who should be commended for balancing the economic, cultural and conservation issues inherent to lands bills in Nevada,” he said. “I will work with my House colleagues and my Nevada delegation colleagues Senators Heller and Reid to ensure that this work product is brought up for a vote, passed and signed into law.”

Jacques Etchegoyhen, who’s coordinating the effort for the county, told commissioners in November he saw some light at the end of the tunnel for the process.

The bill would allow for greater flood control by making federal land along the east side of Carson Valley available.

The wilderness component in the bill would convert the 12,333-acre Burbank Canyon Wilderness Study Area in far eastern Douglas County to a wilderness area.

A 28-acre parcel of U.S. Forest Service Land between Jacks Valley Road and the Carson Valley Plaza could be sold for development. That would also allow the extension of Vista Grande to Jacks Valley.

The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

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