Citizens panel wants control of east-side BLM land |

Citizens panel wants control of east-side BLM land

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal City officials are working on a plan to create an 868-acre park in the area of Silver Saddle Ranch and Carson River Park.

A request that 868 acres of federally owned natural land on the east side of Carson City be turned over to local control earned the recommendation Tuesday evening of Parks and Recreation Commissioners.

Silver Saddle Ranch and Carson River Park comprise most of the land in question. The entire area is owned by the Bureau of Land Management.

“I don’t know who I trust more, federal folks or city folks,” said Commissioner John McKenna, who ended up favoring the site as being part of the federal lands bill being created for Carson City.

McKenna and a few others also suggested the 2,450-acre Prison Hill site be added to the proposal. The popular recreation area is next to the site the city seeks. Ultimately, the city would like to develop a green-belt area along the river from Morgan Mill Road to Silver Saddle, according to Roger Moellendorf, parks and recreation director.

McKenna also detailed concerns about how many attractions would be built on the site. He didn’t want to hike in the Prison Hill Recreation Area and see nothing below but “air conditioners and roofs.”

“Do snakes and coyotes get a vote on this thing?” he quipped.

A plan presented to staff of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., would cost the city $12 million to $15 million. It was the concept presented to the commissioners.

“Don’t lose an opportunity like this,” warned Mark Kimbrough, executive director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and a member of the Planning Commission. He advocated inclusion of a regional park concept in the city’s master plan, which was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in April.

Several residents who would use the site for various activities were mostly supportive of the plan to include it in the lands bill. Some were worried how a park might be developed on the mostly natural land.

While the city has been working with the federal government to manage Silver Saddle and chances are the land won’t be sold off, the U.S. Department of the Treasury “can do what they want” unless the city obtains control of the land, said Juan Guzman, the city’s open-space manager.

Nancy Bish, president of Friends of Silver Saddle Ranch, also had concerns about the plan, especially because she and board members were “shocked” to find out the issue was moving through citizens panels.

“We’re a big stakeholder,” she said. “We just want to be included in this.”

A very similar plan was presented to the commissioners. It includes picnic areas and large open-turf areas, various trails, an events facility separate from what’s offered at the Carson City Fairgrounds, and an amphitheater. Much of the acreage would remain in its natural state, though a variety of enhancements would be sought to improve conditions for animals and plants and preserve its agricultural roots.

While residents could help create a different plan for the site, the concept of a regional park is important when it is described to legislators. It will be important when the city seeks money to help pay for any projects within it, said City Manager Linda Ritter.

The city’s federal lands bill must be completed in late fall. Fire prevention, open space, recreation and land management advantages are among reasons cited for seeking control of dozens of sites.

The proposal goes before the Carson River Advisory Committee tonight at 5:30 p.m.. Adding more land to the request could be discussed at the Parks and Recreation meeting on Oct. 17, but the concept couldn’t be added to the recommendation they made on Tuesday.

City supervisors will have final say about the contents of a lands bill.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.