Commissioners amend stance on land

The Augusta Mounain range intersects the Clan Alpine east of Fallon.

The Augusta Mounain range intersects the Clan Alpine east of Fallon.

Despite a recurrent support for the bill, the Churchill County Commissioners approved a motion to deny a designation of a portion of the Augusta Mountains within Churchill County as a wilderness area in tandem with the Pershing County Lands Bill.

The bill was revisited during the commissioners’ first meeting of the month on Thursday as part of a motion approved to send a letter of support for the bill to the Pershing County Commission, and to U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Harry Reid.

The decision to exclude Churchill County’s portion of the mountain range was unanimous among the commissioners, despite Commissioner Pete Olsen who said he believed the Pershing County Commissioners are acting in their residents’ best interests and, under different circumstances, jumping in with the bill would have benefits.

“My main concern ... is that it does violate what we have said in our public policy,” Olsen said since, earlier in the meeting, County Manager Eleanor Lockwood reminded commissioners of their public stance against additional wilderness areas. “It’s one of the things I’ve harped about with the (Bureau of Land Management) is they’re so deaf to the public, and I don’t want to be guilty of that myself.”

The other main concern Olsen addressed on public involvement, after public comment by Churchill County residents Bob Clifford and Jim Faulk, was a point of unity among all three of the commissioners despite also being unified on supporting Pershing County’s decision.

Commissioner Bus Scharmann said he specifically would not second-guess the Pershing County Commissioners on the bill as it affects them. Scharmann agreed the bill should not involve Churchill County because of the issues of public comment, but his other reason, he said, was because he is unsure if a Wilderness Study Area specifically is more restrictive than a wilderness area as commissioners formerly believed in their prior meeting.

Though Commissioner Carl Erquiaga said he thinks the Augusta Mountains qualify as a wilderness area, he ultimately agreed in believing the commissioners would be doing a disservice to residents by shortcutting the system and not hosting public hearings.

“I think with the RMP (Resource Management Plan) coming out next spring, I think this would be a bad time to change canoes and start a lands bill,” Erquiaga said. “Pershing County is not in Carson and is not affected by the Carson RMP, so they can do that, but I think we need to wait and see what comes out in the final RMP.”

Additionally, the commissioners have changed the date of their second monthly meeting to today at 1:15 p.m. (see separate agenda).

Commissioners also discussed or took action on the following items:

Authorized the county manager to submit an application for the connection of the Casey Road Mobile Home Park to the Churchill County Water and Wastewater System.

Approved a Memorandum of Agreement with the Nevada Department of Veterans Services for the use of office space in the Churchill County Annex Building that began July 7 and ends on June 30, 2018.

Appointed Sue Chambers to fulfill an unexpired term held by Gwen Washburn on the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Sending Site Review Committee.


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