Fire suppression costs important in deciding to sell, keep federal land | NevadaAppeal.com

Fire suppression costs important in deciding to sell, keep federal land

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Members of the Carson City Open Space Advisory Committee met Thursday to consider the value of purchasing or swapping portions of land now controlled by the federal government.

More than two dozen spots have been identified as ripe for a change in either ownership or maintenance styles.

They could make recommendations for the city about areas that garner high interest during their next meeting, at 6 p.m. Aug. 21.

One aspect that deserves careful consideration is the cost of fire protection compared to fire suppression, said Stacey Giomi, fire chief.

“Fighting these fires is becoming very expensive,” he said. “And we can’t get out of paying our fair share.”

The cost to extinguish the Linehan fire, which burned more than 5,800 acres in late June, is still being tallied. And land Carson City is responsible for, made up 8.3 percent of the total burned, Giomi said.

He also warned that firefighting costs could make acquiring land from the feds a costly endeavor should a fire break out, and posed this question: “Can the city better manage the land than the federal agencies?”

Other city officials made arguments for acquiring more of these areas so maintenance could be locally controlled. The process of removing dry grass would be completed faster by local government than the feds, said Juan Guzman, open space manager.

The mixed ownership of land – especially on the city’s outer edges – makes management more difficult. Upkeep for public uses, including recreation, open space and policing, and maintaining access, are difficult to manage when there are so many different jurisdictions involved, according to Guzman.

Once the committee members make decisions, city staff will add their opinions and the supervisors can decide how the city’s federal lands bill will be worded.

Some changes being considered include:

• Obtaining three acres near Costco.

• Buying nine acres from the Bureau of Land Management on Highway 50 East to resolve the ongoing dispute with Capitol City Loan over use of land that’s supposed to be managed by the city and used for recreation, according to an agreement between the local and federal governments.

• Purchasing 147 acres on C Hill where the flag is located.

• Disposing of 40 acres next to the former Gilbert property south of Kings Canyon Road.

City officials seek to resolve the matter by December.

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