The Churchill County Commissioners had their plate full at their Wednesday afternoon meeting with concerned residents whose homes back up to the Carson River and are concerned for their safety from hunters.
Denise Smithwick, a resident who lives near the Carson River, said she is concerned for the safety of residents and children who live and play by the river. Speaking on behalf of 30 homeowners who live in the area, she said on several occasions residents have had run ins with hunters who have little concern for the houses, animals and people who live along the river.
“I’m not against hunting or guns,” Smithwick said. “I grew up in a hunting family in North Carolina. I’m just surprised hunters can hunt in my backyard and that the county sanctions it. The hunters trespass on our property and disturb the peace. It could end very badly.”
Smithwich read residents’ concerns who oppose hunting near the river.
“We have been shocked several times by the loud boom of a shotgun or rifle since moving here and wondered who in the world would be shooting in such a populated area,” Smithwich read. “It’s not only noisy but very dangerous. We have many grandchildren that enjoy playing by the river and are concerned about their safety.”
She continued: “We do not want idiots with weapons on or around our property,” and “Hunters almost ran our horse through the fence when shots went off on the river.”
Smithwich said currently, hunters legally discharge firearms along the river with total disregard for residents. She said those who live along the river pay property taxes, and in many cases, paid a premium price for waterfront property. Residents said they are entitled to a peaceful existence and protection under the law.
She said none of the Nevada Revised Statutes protects residents from hunters.
Smithwich presented commissioners with two possible solutions: Develop and adopt an ordinance for designated areas where discharging a shotgun, BB gun or pellet gun within 1,000 feet, or a rifle, gun or pistol within 5,000 feet of an occupied dwelling would be unlawful. The alternative would be to ban hunting along the river within defined areas.
“We are tired of being forced to live with county-sanctioned hunting in our backyards endangering our families, pets, livestock and property, while providing us no legal recourse,” Smithwich said.
Although, many residents agree with the ordinance, there are several who felt differently.
Resident Tom Phillips said he concurred with the issue of hunting and safety; however, the protection of pets and livestock from predators who roam the river conflicts with the ordinance and that the ordinance proposed is excessive.
Former commissioner Norman Frey said the commissioners cannot legislate common sense.
Sheriff Ben Trotter said he sympathizes with both sides. He said the sheriff’s office has been called several times over noise complaints, but is unsure if the complaints with damages have been reported.
“If you can’t prove the crime, then we can’t charge it as a crime,” Trotter said.
Commissioners agreed to direct staff from the county, sheriff and district attorney offices to examine the problem of hunting along the river and return with suggested solutions that can be implemented without establishing an ordinance.
Also at the meeting, the Bureau of Land Management presented its Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement.
Project Manager Colleen Sievers said there have been six public meetings for the Carson City District with 300 comments stemming from those sessions.
Sievers said five alternatives are available to the proposals: No action, resource use, conservation, urban interface and agency preferred (mix of them all).
The sage grouse and the bi-state sage-grouse has 275,600 acres of preliminary general management area and 138,600 acres of preliminary priority management area, she said.
Churchill County doesn’t have any special designated areas. Sievers said there are two purposed spots, Sand Mountain and Camel Mountain. She said the BLM wants to have a portion of Sand Mountain open, while a part of it will be limited and another part will be closed.
Areas of environmental concerns are designated to protect a specific resource value. She said the BLM has six ACECs, and under preferred alternative the BLM is proposing eight and purposing to add Grimes Point and Fox Peak to the ACEC.
Sievers said if the areas don’t fall into the open or closed, by default, they will become limited.
Commissioner Pete Olsen said Terri Knutson, Carson City District of the Bureau of Land Management, has never heard the county say it needs more wilderness area. He said the county is upset about what it has had and that sites have been closed to recreation and farming and ranching.
“It’s not what this community wants,” Olsen said.
Sievers said the BLM has been working with Churchill County to make sure the county gets what they want and there is documentation to back it up.
Olsen said the other groups who live outside Churchill County receive about 80 percent of the “say so” with the county receiving 20 percent of the input. He said the BLM does not listen to the county and its residents.
“Those groups need to get the 20 percent say and we get the 80 because we live here, we make a living off of this land and we enjoy the recreational opportunities,” Olsen said. “I’d be just fine and dandy if you left it exactly the way it is now. Take your A proposal, leave things like they are, we’re happy and leave us alone.”
Sievers said the BLM is at the 120-day review period that ends March 27. She said the comments would then be examined, the document revised and a proposed RMP final EIS distributed. During the fall/winter there is a 30-day protest period, and she hope to have the approved RMP by summer 2016.
To submit comments email BLM_NV_CCDO_RMP@blm.gov , mail to: CCD RMP, BLM, Carson City District, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, NV 89701 or visit the project website at http://on.doi.gov/IuYBNGT.
Other items the commissioners approved or discussed include the following:
Approved Bill 2015-A, Ordinance 115 for a public hearing on Feb. 5 and direct the clerk to publish notice.
Approved zone change for property 500 Roberson Lane, parcel number 008-572-07, meets the criteria for Churchill County code.
Approved resolution 02-2015 requesting assignment of a Deputy Attorney General in the prosecution of a conflict case in Churchill County.
Approved professional services agreement with GEM Consulting to provide lobbying services for the county effective Jan. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2015.
Approved the Interlocal contract between the State of Nevada acting by and through its State of Nevada Public Employees’ Deferred Compensation Committee and Churchill County and Designated Representatives form for Deferred Compensation Committee operations subject to review and concurrence with the District Attorney’s Office.