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Wildland fight could get complicated

It sounds like a huge meteorite is headed right for the western boundary of Nevada. No one has actually seen the meteorite, but there have been lots of guesses as to its size. Some folks think the meteorite is 16 miles on a side. Others say it is more like 31 miles.

But they’re sure that when it hits there won’t be anything left in its wake.

There’s not really a meteorite coming at us, but you’d think so the way people are reacting to an as-yet-unwritten public lands bill for Lyon and Mineral counties.

The size of the area proposed by a private wilderness group has lots of folks upset. The proposal is 693,000 acres, which comes to about 1,100 square miles, which could be contained in an area 33 miles across if it were all in one place, which it isn’t. In comparison Lyon County consists of 2,016 square miles. Mineral County has 3,813 square miles.

The U.S. Forest Service has identified 154,000 acres as potential wilderness, which comes to 240 square miles, or about 15 miles square if it were all in one place. To put that in perspective, Douglas County is 740 square miles.

Should the federal government circumvent the normal designation process and limit access for motorized vehicles in an area a third of the size of Mineral County? Of course not, and we get the feeling they’re not going to.

This feels more like an effort to get the Forest Service’s wilderness proposal enacted by scaring people out of their socks.

To put it in perspective, if the Forest Service proposal was approved, it would be the second largest wilderness in Nevada, about half the size of Black Rock Desert.

One way to get a little wilderness is to ask for a lot, and it helps a ton if you can get someone else to do the asking.

But until someone has actually seen the meteorite that is the public lands bill, it will, like so many things in Nevada, grow with the telling.

• This editorial appeared in The Record-Courier.