Commissioners receive report on land, water
LVN Editor Emeritus
Ken Collum, field manager of the Bureau of Land Management’s Stillwater Field Office, gave an update of his agencies activities to the Churchill County Commission at their second meeting of March.
Collum said the agency has constructed a fuel break along the Alpine Road in case a wildfire, like the one that burned more than 20,000 acres in July 2017, breaks out. He said the fire break is seven miles long and 100 feet wide. Drill seeding is planned for Bravo-17 in the fall, another site of a wildfire that also broke out in July 2017. In order to seed, Collum said one season after aerial herbicide application needs to occur. He also said the BLM is monitoring the invasive plants in the Draw, Bravo and Tungsten burn areas.
Collum gave an overview of activity involving renewable energy. He said Ormat has contracted a hydrologist to coordinate the monitoring plan to supplement the existing draft environmental assessment on Dixie Meadows. An environmental assessment is being prepared for exploration drilling at Comstock Geothermal.
Furthermore, he said several geothermal plants — Tungsten and Salt Wells — are planning to add solar. Recently, Collum said the BLM met with U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei to discuss grazing and the Navy’s withdrawal of land.
According to Collum, a number of range improvements will be completed later this year at Edwards Creek, Carson and Porter Canyon (Smith Creek Ranch). He said the focus will be on spring development and protection.
Collum showed a list of various races planned on BLM land, beginning with a horse endurance race in mid-May followed by two off-road races in July and August.
Commissioners were informed that this year’s snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is above average but nowhere near the record season of two years ago when one record after another was broken.
Kelly Herwick, water master from the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District; Cody Biggs, TCID’s maintenance manager; and Scott Fenema from the Bureau of Reclamation said the Lahontan Valley has an ample water supply for the current year. Fenema said spring snowstorms are still a possibility, but the weather models show no big storms forming in the future.
Commissioners learned about 1,000 acre-feet of water is added every day to Lahontan Reservoir without new releases and that the cubic per feet flow of the area rivers is lower than in 2017. Herwick said the Carson River’s bed has been cleaned of debris, and more water will be able to flow through. Because of the current situation, the speakers said it’s too early to think about a precautionary release of water from the reservoir. Biggs said abbot three miles of the river has been cleaned and spot-cleaning has been done at the Bafford Lane Bridge and at the culverts on U.S Highway 95 south of Pasture Lane and U.S. Highway 50 east of Fallon.
Herwick said farmers are preparing their land for the growing season, and TCID is monitoring flows into Lahontan Reservoir.
Commissioner Bus Scharmann commended TCID, Churchill County Roads Department, BOR and other agencies for their work in preparing for the water season.
Ken Collum, field manager of the Bureau of Land Management’s Stillwater Field Office, gave an update of activities. He said the agency has constructed a fuel break along the Alpine County Road in case a wildfire, like the one in July 2017, breaks out. Drilling seeding is planned for Bravo-17, another site of a wildfire that also broke out in July 2017.
Collum said an environmental assessment on Dixie Meadows is in hiatus until the BLM can develop a plan. Furthermore, he said several geothermal plants are adding solar. Recently, Collum said the BLM met with Amodei to discuss grazing and the Navy’s withdrawal of land.
In other action, commissioners took action on the following agenda items:
Approved $10,000 to Fallon Youth Club dependent on looking at the county’s other obligations and commitments.
Authorized the clerk/treasurer to take 16 properties held in trust to sale on April 30 .
Approve proposals to provide appraisal services for evaluating conservation easements on several properties.
Commissioners also recognized the following employees for years of service: Denise Mondink-Felton, Assessor’s Office, 10 years; Paul Loop, Sheriff’s Office, 15 years; Art Mallory, District Attorney, 20 years; Sheriff Richard Hickox, Sheriff’s Office, 20 years; Commissioner Carl Erquiaga, 10 years; Donna Cossette, Churchill County Museum, 15 years; Autumn Miller, Sheriff’s Office, 15 year; and Sylvia Dankers, Juvenile Probation, 20 years.