Lyon commissioners to meet with delegation reps over lands bill | NevadaAppeal.com

Lyon commissioners to meet with delegation reps over lands bill

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

Despite being rejected two years ago by the county commissioners, the Lyon County Lands Bill is becoming a hot issue again.

So much so that the Lyon County Commission has scheduled a workshop with representatives of Nevada’s Congressional delegation to discuss the matter.

The workshop will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Lyon County administrative complex at 27 S. Main St., Yerington.

The original bill was voted down largely because it required the county to set aside thousands of acres of land in Southern Lyon County for wilderness areas, but the county code prohibited that.

This time, the issue is water.

Commission Chairman Phyllis Hunewill has said the new bill attaches any lands agreement to settlement of the Walker River Basin dispute, which she fears may drain Mason and Smith valleys of 80 percent of their water.

She said the federal government was purchasing water rights from willing sellers in the two valleys to send the water down to Walker Lake, which is depleted due to drought and heavy salination.

“If the water issue in the Walker River is taking 80 percent of water out of this basin, Mason Valley agricultural lands will be taken out of production,” she said at the commission’s Oct. 18 meeting. “They want 50,000 acre-feet of water in Mason Valley.”

Tory Mazzola, communications director for Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said ending litigation in the Walker River basin was a main goal of the bill.

“The time has come to reach a fair settlement with a bill written by elected representatives, not judges, and Sen. Ensign is committed to working with the Congressional delegation and local officials to preserve Walker Lake and the livelihoods of ranchers and farmers in the Smith and Mason Valleys,” he said in a statement. “Maintaining or improving their quality of life for the residents of Mineral and Lyon Counties will remain our highest priority throughout the process of crafting a water settlement and lands bill.”

The Walker River issue is only one area of dispute; the wilderness requirements are still part of the bill. Environmental groups are seeking to have Bald Mountain and the Sweetwater Sisters mountains designated wilderness areas.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.

If You Go

WHAT: Lyon County Commission workshop

WHEN: 1 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: 27 S. Main St., Yerington

CALL: 463-6531