Churchill County residents and others from adjacent counties who attended a Bureau of Land Management public hearing Thursday night discovered that only questions were allowed without any answers provided.
According to the BLM, the Resource Management Plan provides the framework to guide decisions for every action and approved use on the National System of Public Lands.
The BLM manages about 4.8 million acres of public land in 11 counties with nine cooperating counties.
Hundreds of residents cramed into the chamber to discuss their concern regarding the RMP. As residents lined the walls and stood shoulder to shoulder, BLM employees, though answered questions from residents, who were looking at maps in the back of the room. During the question and answer period for the public hearing, no questions asked by residents were addressed publicly; instead the BLM officials said the questions asked on public record would be answered in the final document when it is released in the fall.
It was clear during the meeting that residents were not happy about the BLM trying to close off more land that is used by the public.
Colleen Sievers, RMP project manager for the BLM Carson City District, said the BLM follows Congressional mandates that adhere to several different acts and laws. She said the BLM then revises the plan while considering the Land Use Plan, Wilderness Act and endangered species, to name a few. Those acts and laws, said the agency, are the reasons why the BLM has closed and plans to close access to public land.
There are five alternatives in the Draft RMP/EIS offer a range of approaches to achieve and maintain desired resource conditions in the area over the coming 15 to 20 years.
Residents submitted request cards to ask their question, so a public reporter could get it on record. Each individual was alloted three minutes to speak.
Sievers said the comments presented to the BLM weigh heavily with how the plan is drawn up and the changes that might be made.
Art Daniels told the audience that this was not his first time dealing with the BLM. He said in 1948, the BLM took his family’s land without a reason and without compensation.
“We can’t really do anything about it, we don’t have enough people standing up to them,” Daniels said. “But we can try and do our best to put an end to this.”
Resident Hunt Helie said the BLM already has enough protected ground, and he doesn’t understand why the BLM needs to make more land protected.
Wildlife Ecologist Craig Downer said the BLM is run by greed, and the organization only thinks about themselves and not the animals and people who live off of and use the land.
Several residents stressed they want the land to remain open so their children and grandchildren can continue to use it for many years.
“No one has faith in the BLM,” Rupert Wyble said. “However, I believe the BLM can be saved by coordinating with counties to rewrite the packet … Churchill County is a beautiful place, and I love this place and the people here, but Churchill County is not the Sherwood Forest and you (BLM) are not the sheriff of Nottingham.”
Joyce McCaluley said if the BLM cuts down pine trees they’re destroying the way of life for American Indians. She said the pine trees are a way of life for many American Indians who rely on the nuts for food and it’s a tradition passed down for generations.
“A lot has been taken from our people, and we don’t want to lose anymore,” McCaluley said. “I’d advise the BLM to go speak with the tribes more.”
William Rodgers added the BLM is supposed to protect the land but instead the agency has been destroying it. He said there is no amount of money that can fix what the BLM has destroyed.
Sievers said the comment period extended Tuesday from March 27 to April 27. She said residents can send in comments by email to email@example.com, by mail to Carson City RMP, BLM Carson City District Office, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, NV 89701, or fax to 775-885-6147.