Heller pushes Pershing County lands bill | NevadaAppeal.com

Heller pushes Pershing County lands bill

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nv., this week asked the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to back the Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act.

That measure would release more than 300,000 acres of BLM land in the county for sale. Heller said those lands have been identified for potential disposal by BLM and are primarily checkerboarded lands he described as a “major land management problem.”

Heller described those lands as “a bureaucratic headache for both the Bureau of Land Management and adjacent private landowners.”

Lands to be sold would be jointly selected by Pershing County and the Department of the Interior and sold for no less than fair market value. The money raised, he said, would be invested in education, conservation and county programs such as road maintenance and public safety.

Federal portions of the cash would benefit wildlife habitat projects including for the sage grouse and bighorn sheep.

Some 50,000 acres of land now being managed as wilderness, Heller said, would be returned to multiple use. He said those five wilderness areas have “been in limbo for nearly 30 years.”

The legislation would facilitate expansion of existing mining projects in the county and it would allow Pershing County to acquire the land in the Unionville Cemetery. He said that cemetery was established in 1870 and used for decades until it was discovered it’s on BLM land. Heller said BLM is now prohibiting new burials there, which he said doesn’t make sense.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nv., has introduced a similar piece of legislation in the House and Heller said it’s supported by Nevada’s other three House members as well.