Wide open spaces: Jarrard Ranch purchase crucial link in open space plan
Whether it’s fishing, walking, bicycling, horseback riding, rafting or viewing wildlife, Carson City residents don’t have to leave the city to find outdoor recreation.
Ever since the mid-1990s when voters approved the Quality of Life Initiative, Open Space Manager Juan Guzman has been working behind the scenes to acquire thousands of acres to be set aside for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.
Most recently, the Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of the 368-acre Jarrard Ranch on Carson River Road for more than $3.7 million.
“It has been a very long time coming,” Guzman said of the negotiations.
At issue were two parcels – one east of the river and one west. A compromise was reached for the city to purchase only the west parcel, with an opportunity to take another look at the east parcel at a future date.
The purchase will be a complement to the prior acquisition in 2007 of the adjoining Andersen Ranch. The two properties are known as Buzzy’s Ranch, named for previous owner Buzz Andersen.
“This is one of the pieces of property that has been defined as significant because it’s so visible on Carson River Road. And because of its expanse of green, the scenic value is really good, too,” Guzman said.
“Because of its proximity to the river, it’s a place where people can recreate, whether fishing, walking, horseback riding or bicycling. There is no motorized use there,” he said.
Joe Childs, a resident of eight years whose property backs up to Riverview Park near the Jarrard land, said he is very pleased with the purchase for the residents of Carson City.
“I didn’t grow up here, but I’ve talked to lots of people who used to sneak onto that ranch to catch frogs or snakes when they were kids, and I grew up doing those things somewhere else where there is now a shopping mall,” Childs said.
He said open space offers all kinds of recreation, and that he has become “quite a birder” since becoming aware of all the wildlife nearby. Most recently, he said he watched a pair of eagles along the river.
Childs also praised Guzman’s efforts in doing so much for the people of Carson City.
“Juan is a champion of all that is good, and if I hear he is working on a deal, I have faith he will do the best job possible – and I’m cynical by nature,” he said.
The Jarrard purchase will connect to the Silver Saddle Ranch and Riverview Park, Guzman said.
“All those trails will connect. That’s the beauty of it. We’ll be able to provide loops for people to ride and walk all along the river,” he said.
Some of the Jarrard property will be left wild, Guzman said.
“You don’t necessarily need a trail to go fishing at your favorite fishing hole,” he said.
The present owner will continue to use the property until he sells the water rights, but the public will have access all along the river from Mexican Dam at the south end to Morgan Mill Park at the north.
The owner will continue to irrigate the land for several years, but eventually, the water rights will be up for sale, said Bruce Scott of Resource Concepts Inc., who works with the city on water projects. If the water rights sale doesn’t go through, the city will get a first shot at buying them.
If the water rights are moved, however, the city will need to make other arrangements to keep the property green.
“We can’t let it become a weed patch,” he said.
Scott said the city could bring treated effluent in, as they do to irrigate parks and municipal golf courses, or Carson City will be in the business of looking at water along the river.
“We have to stay on top of that, but we have the ability and time to plan for this and execute a smooth transition,” he said.
Scott, who is also a member of the city’s Open Space Committee, said when the committee was formed in 1996, it conducted a study to determine what Carson City residents wanted to do with open space funds. Their first priority was land along the river, and second, to retain irrigated land.
“The Jarrard property satisfies both, so it’s been very exciting,” he said.
Status of contiguous property along the Carson River from south to north includes:
• Desormier property, 19 acres, city-owned.
• Mexican Dam property, 57 acres, city owned.
• Prison Hill includes 3,000 acres of BLM open space operated with the city under a cooperative agreement.
• The Silver Saddle Ranch is 750 acres that are jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Friends of the Silver Saddle Ranch. The title to that property will soon be transferred to Carson City. The federal Lands Bill provides for transfer of lands from the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service.
• The Jarrard Ranch will soon be purchased, includes is 368 acres.
• Riverview Park is owned by the city and includes 105 acres.
• A 37-acre parcel owned by Vidler Water Company may soon be transferred to the city.
• Empire Ranch Golf Course trail area is owned by the city.
• Morgan Mill Park, owned by the city.
• The city is also pursuing the purchase of 405 acres owned by John Serpa in the Carson River Canyon east of Deer Run Road.
• The purchase of 470 acres owned by Don Bently is also in the works. The land connects to the Serpa property and runs almost to the Lyon County line. A proposal could go before the board of supervisors as early as next month.
All of this property requires management, something that hasn’t escaped the notice of the city.
“These lands will require a great amount of management and we are prepared to do that. We’ll need to control fuels, weeds, trash or cars that are dumped. We are fully aware of those responsibilities,” Guzman said. “Through Question 18, we have been setting money aside.”
Guzman believes the Jarrard property is the jewel in open space program so far for the east side of Carson City.
“I honestly believe that this property will define our program as exceptional and something that the people of Carson City will benefit from far into the future – enjoying all this recreation and beauty,” he said.
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