U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Northeastern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council
October 22, 2004
Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
Resource Advisory Council (RAC) Members Present and Category Represented:
Jo Dean (2) Environmental
Art Gale (1) Grazing Permit
Vince Garcia (3) Native American
Dave Gaskin (3) State Agency
Brent Howerton (1) Transportation/ROW
Bill Upton (1) Energy/Minerals
Hank Vogler (1) Grazing Permit
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Representatives Present:
Mike Brown Public Affairs Officer, Elko Field Office
Stephanie Connelly Associate Field Manager, Ely Field Office
Helen Hankins Field Office Manager, Elko Field Office
Diane Hendry Public Affairs Officer, Battle Mountain Field Office
Gene Kolkman Field Manager, Ely Field Office
Jerry Smith Field Manager, Battle Mountain Field Office
7:45 a.m. Vice Chair Hank Vogler called the meeting to order
I. REVIEW & APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM PREVIOUS MEETING
-Vince Garcia noted a spelling error on the first page of Mark Lafoon’s name.
-Bill Upton and Jerry Smith clarified the Humboldt River location where it enters the Battle Mountain Field Office area.
- Hank Volger said in follow-up to the June meeting about the need to fence Highway 93B at the Boone Springs location. A trucker hit a wild horse and is paralyzed now.Vince Garcia made a motion to approve the minutes with corrections. The motion was seconded by Dave Gaskin. All in favor.
II. ELECTION OF OFFICERS
Art Gale nominated Vince Garcia for RAC Chairman. Brent Howerton seconded the motion. There were no further nominations and Brent motioned to close the nominations. All in favor of Vince Garcia as Chairman.
Art Gale nominated Hank Vogler for Vice-Chairman and Brent Howerton seconded the motion. Bill Upton moved that nominations be closed and Art Gale seconded. All in favor of Hank Vogler as Vice-Chairman.
III ESTABLISH AGENDA & MEETING DATES FOR 2005
- Helen Hankins presented priority projects/topics for the Elko Field Office for the RAC’s consideration:
- There are150 miles of California trail on public land and we need to address trail restoration; There are 700 miles in the Elko District total. The Nevada legislature is working on OHV licensing; and everyone wants the revenues generated. California and Colorado use funds to restore habitat and other things related to ATV trails.
- Gene Kolkman presented priority projects/topics for the Ely Field Office:(1) Priority - The Ely RMP Draft EIS is coming out late December with a 90-day comment period and want the NE RAC to review the document. Public meetings will be held in Ely, Caliente, Tonopah, etc. A cover letter will be going out to all RAC members detailing the public meeting dates.
- Art Gale asked about any RAC help on water line pipeline?
- Stephanie Connelly stated they would be doing the right-of-way permitting. Gene Kolkman is the BLM lead for Nevada. Bruce Flinn is the BLM project manager out of Colorado. The Southern Nevada Water Authority submits the pipeline waterway application.
- Brent Howerton asked where are studies of affects of extracting water?
- Dave Gaskin remarked that the state engineer looks at extraction and invited members to call the state with any water extraction questions they have.
- Gene Kolkman commented that Hugh Ricci, state engineer, is a speaker suggestion; another speaker could be the pipeline project manager; and Bruce Flinn could talk more about the pipeline project as well. Once the bill is passed, Ely will be working on the Right of Way – it passed the Senate and the House will be reviewing when they reconvene in November.
(2) Could use RAC advise on wind energy guidelines – have had 6 applications for test sites so far – there is a national programmatic EIS – maybe RAC could look at the EIS and tailor to local area
(3) Transportation planning – CRM (Coordinated Resource Management) – will probably be working on TRT (Technical Review Team) on Steptoe Valley and would like RAC review assistance
(4) Could use help on conservation / restoration work in areas of fire suppression; where should Ely focus first?
- Lincoln County Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act – may have monies for conservation projects if the bill passes in November. It will be big turning point on funding. Ely has set AML for wild horses. Sage brush restoration is an issue for the field office
- Jerry Smith presented priority projects/topics for the Battle Mountain Field Office:-Sage grouse population management units (PMU) plans and work to be done.
-Wind energy test sites.
- Dave Gaskin said that consistency is important- words from Bob Abbey; may be an action item for NEPA streamlining. Hugh Ricci – state engineer – has responsibility for allocation of water. We may need other speakers
- Mike Brown said he had heard from Les Hansen said he would like the RAC to discuss OHV issues.
- Art Gale would like grass banks as a possibility; the Hage decisions and the McGruder Allotment Technical Review – BLM should keep eye on and keep the RAC informed.
- Hank Vogler mentioned water holding rights and discussion followed; suggested mitigation may play a role in water transfer/rights to other cities.
- Helen Hankins remarked that the state has control of water rights but they are also a federal issue. The RAC might want to have some discussion about – it is a western issue not just Nevada. It might be constructive to have some presentations on water in Nevada or water in the west.
- Stephanie Connelly commented that a big picture presentation will help with pipeline issue. Not a lot BLM can do about it but a big issue
- Several RAC members commented they would like to look at water issues.
- Helen Hankins said the RAC could legitimately raise concerns to the Secretary of Interior on wildlife affects, etc. There is a need for getting educated. Anyone can apply for water but you must use it and keep paying fee every year.
- RAC members re-iterated the issue of water rights. Impacts could be of great concern
- The RAC would also like to have Weed Management updates.
- The RAC 2005 meeting priorities and action items were listed:
Land sales and acquisition
Health of land – The Battle Mountain Field Office needs RAC advice on the Carico Lake Allotment like that given to Elko for South Buckhorn Allotment (Danns).
- Information presentations for 2005 RAC meetings include:
Alternative energy sources
- Hank Vogler commented that maybe tradeoffs could occur for Las Vegas getting water rights.
Meeting and Tour dates set for 2005
January 28, Reno (Friday) –Ely RMP; Water presentation; Update on Governor’s Sage Grouse plan – overview and listing status – discuss PMUs – field office plans for PMUs-Meeting will be held in the Nevada State Office conference room or the Nugget.March 31, Eureka (Thursday) –– tour of Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI) projects fuel reduction – pinion juniper manipulation – what the town is doing. It will be a half day field trip; alternate energy presentation; sage grouse restoration; and the Ely RMP follow-up.May 20, Elko (Friday) –will present land sale map for Elko land sales; transportation planning for OHV with Technical Review Team and Coordinated Resource Management participation; Battle Mountain will discuss Land Use Plans revision.July 14 & 15, Battle Mountain (Thursday and Friday) – Tour focusing on rangeland health issues and NEPA streamlining process discussion.
In June 2005 there is the Eastern Landscape Coalition meeting in Ely and the RAC is always invited.
- The Final DRAFT of Governor’s Sage Grouse plan is out.Break 9:40 to 10:00 a.m.
IV. FIELD MANAGERS’ AND DISTRICT RANGERS’ REPORTS:
Battle Mountain Field Managers report –
- Art Gale asked about the tower location?
- Jerry Smith stated it is right on top of Diamond Mountain; 15,000 acres was decided by the contractor to be too expensive. There is no wind tower application yet; the big acreage is for the propeller – the amount is not decided yet; Las Vegas does have a developed wind site. A 75’-wide road was wanted because of the weight of tower (32 tons). It would cost between $1 million and $1.5 million just to build roads to get the towers in. A suggestion was made that the wind towers be re-engineered smaller; and the engineers said they can’t do it. Critical species are also an issue. Even if the county allows a wind tower to be put in and approves monitoring and testing, that does not mean or imply development is permitted. It would then involve an EA or more, tribal consultation needed, etc.
- Gene Kolkman commented they would like to have companies sign an agreement that testing does not imply development is OK. Testing gives them a preference over other companies but not a permit. They pay an annual fee to hold right-of-way to a meteorological tower. Geothermal is a lease most of time through competitive leasing – they do have a preference to move forward – royalties must be paid if development occurs. Hot springs can have spiritual significance to tribes. It is a discretionary action on BLM’s part based on environmental impacts. Property tax to counties can be significant.
- Art Gale asked ask about funding – that companies foot bill for cost recovery but still takes BLM staff time.
- BLM won the appeal from the Committee for High Desert and is using that decision to move forward on geothermal leases.Elko Field Manager’s Report –
- Helen Hankins said that the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority hosted three FAM (familiarization) tours last year. They brought in national sports writers and took participants on an 8-hour ATV ride. Sure Track Magazine listed the top 10 ATV places in the world. The Spruce Mountain event may attract hundreds. We already have 3 EAs planned to look at trails. 1869-1950 was the period of silver mining on Spruce Mountain. There are 170 shafts, not counting ventilation shafts; safety, and destruction of bat habitat issues.
- Helen Hankins discussed the California Trail Center. Within the month we will be at 100% design at a cost of $ 3.5 million. This summer we will have the final design. Construction is planned for next summer or fall.
- Hankins said that with the Emigrant Project with Newmont there are weekly conference calls with all the players to work towards streamlining the NEPA process. We are developing giant schedule for the Elko permit process plus the Nevada State Office schedule.
- Dave Gaskin remarked that we’re hoping for coordinated effort to avoid duplicating work or going back to fix things – so at end of process the company could go forward with a permit
- Hank Vogler noted that Hummer traffic is an issue – the wheel base is wider than 2-tracks and roads may have to be widened.
- Helen Hankins said BLM is hoping to inventory, stabilize and restore Spruce Mountain trails so it becomes a tourist attraction. The Hummer event organizer is hoping for 400 vehicles and is talking about traveling on different routes. This will have impacts and that is why we need amendment to the Land Use Plan. There are no measures to face this kind of use except emergency closures. They are looking at going to five or seven different areas and not all are on public lands. No route proposal has been received yet. We must then look at soil types and other resources. BLM doesn’t have ability to stop it but BLM does need to manage –and right now the Land Use Plan says everything is open except for WSAs. Hummer is considered an off-road vehicle for this purpose. BLM can use limited use through EAs and seasons of the year.
- Bill Upton asked about bonding for the Hummer event.
- Helen Hankins said yes; she thinks the organizer already has a million dollar bond because he has held races in other areas. The first step should be to ask public what kind of transportation plan they want. We need to get to a place where public helps decide where trails should be and when used (seasonal issue). Hankins would like to see OHV discussions on these issues
- Helen Hankins briefed the RAC on the Sensitive Bird Species EIS. BLM was taken to district court by the Committee for High Deserts over the Owyhee and other allotments’ use decisions. BLM Elko needs to prepare an EIS that deals with specific bird species on the three allotment/allotment complexes - sage grouse, burrowing owls and raptors.
Ely Field Manager’s Report –- Gene Kolkman stated that the Robertson Mine is open. There is more traffic in town and the mine is increasing production.
- Kolkman discussed the pipeline – working on the focus of proposed actions. He also discussed the Lincoln County Conservation Development Act and described the application area. It is speculative on the number of acres; approximately two families to an acre foot. There are several plans. BLM is to proceed with the application. There is $6 million allocated to do water studies and legislation directs BLM to do EIS. We must then do right-of-way permits on the same schedule
- Kolkman continued the pipeline discussion. The Alternatives (in an EIS) could include no action, build all the way up at one time and sequential – test sites along the way – the latter will be proposed action. There is a three year time line to do an EIS. It could take 20 to 40 years to get to Ely. Southern Nevada Water Authority and other companies are interested. There are many issues and potential impacts. Need big public information effort to help eliminate fear and uncertainty. Science is also a big issue. BLM hopes to start public meetings in January and Scoping maybe in February. Maybe hold a panel discussion for January meeting.Art Gale moved the meeting adjourn and the motion was seconded by Brent Howerton. 10:55 Meeting adjourned and the Northeastern Great Basin RAC will convene with the other RACs at 11:30 a.m. to conclude the Tri-RAC meeting.
Flip Chart Notes are attached to these minutes.Date Approved: March 31, 2005
Approved by: Vince Garcia, RAC Chair
Minutes by Diane Hendry and Mike Brown
Flip Chart Notes – Northeastern Great Basin RAC 10/22/04
Elko Field Office Hot Topics
-Land sales – asked RAC to look at parcels and recommend which for sale (90,000 acres total) 5-year recommendation
-OHV Vehicles – currently 3 proposals for OHV trails. Concern from NDOW for "piece mealing" OHV – would like LUP Amendment
-150 miles of CA TRAIL in Elko District – need management on public land
All 3 Field Offices / Action Items
Land sales and acquisitions
Information presentations on Water
Information presentations on wind energy and alternative energy sources
Ely Field Office - Action Items
1) RMP (Draft) EIS in Dec. – want RAC comments
Battle Mountain Field Office
RAC Members Issues
Ely RMP- BMFO Carico Lake
Grass Banks / Hage decisions
Water – holding water rights
A 2nd presentation of water in Nevada – The Big Picture
Weed Management Updates
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