Nevada News Service
and Staff reports

Fernley Economic Self-Determination Act

“Fernley Economic Self-Determination Act” on Thursday passed the full House as part of a larger package of public lands legislation. It is the first bill from a group of seven Nevada lands bills recently passed out of the Natural Resources Committee to be brought to the House floor for a vote.

The Fernley Economic Self-Determination Act would give the City of Fernley the opportunity to purchase up to 9,114 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) lands within the city boundaries at fair market value for the purpose of multi-use development.

“This is great news for Fernley, which, like much of Northern Nevada, is a complicated checkerboard of public lands controlled by different federal land managers that can make planning and economic development difficult,” said Congressman Mark Amodei, R-Nev. “This bill would enable the local community to determine its own economic future in a way not previously available.”

Native American burning techniques

Modern land management practices in the Great Basin may benefit by being blended with Native American burning techniques.

Brad Schultz, Humboldt County extension educator for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, says research shows that Native Americans were successful at controlling vegetation with their use of fire.

And he adds proper and targeted burning helps to control the vegetation and other fuels that can make small wildfires become massive.

“We need to understand that active management that Native Americans used and in many situations bring back that active management,” he explains. “Or change the type of management, the mechanisms of fire or some other treatment that manipulates vegetation, when fire’s no longer appropriate.”

Schultz is among the researchers involved in the study that was published in the journal Rangeland Ecology & Management.

Congressional committee’s changes To wilderness bills

An advocacy group is calling on Congress to remove language added to proposed legislation that would help protect thousands of acres of Northern Nevada wilderness.

Paul Spitler, director of Wilderness Campaigns at The Wilderness Society, says the House Committee on Natural Resources approved the bills, but also added amendments that could harm efforts to fully protect the Pine Forest Range and Wovoka Wilderness.

He says the changes could allow some logging and also limit protections for lands near the wilderness areas.

“What these provisions have done is taken clean bills that have broad public support, bipartisan support in Nevada, and turned them into a little shop of horrors that could do great harm on the ground,” he stresses.

Spitler says the bills are the Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act and the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act, which would protect the Wovoka Wilderness.

He says the bills are now headed for a full House vote and then move on for Senate consideration.

Spitler says his group is calling on Congress to restore the bills to their original intent.