U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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Meeting Minutes
March 31, 2005
Eureka Opera House
Eureka, Nevada
 
Resource Advisory Council (RAC) Members Present and Category Represented:
Jo Dean (2) Environmental
Sheri Eklund-Brown (3) Elected Official
Art Gale (1) Grazing Permit
Dave Gaskin (3) State Agency
Brent Howerton (1) Transportation/ROW
Jon Hutchings (3) Public-at-Large
Barry Perryman (3) Academia
Dave Tattam (2) Wild Horse and Burro
Bill Upton (1) Energy/Minerals
Hank Vogler (1) Grazing Permit
 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Representatives Present:
Mike Brown Public Affairs Officer, Elko FO
Bruce Flinn Project Manager, Ely FO
Helen Hankins Field Office Manager, Elko FO
Rick Orr Field Office Manager, Caliente FS
Jo Simpson Chief, External Affairs, Nevada SO
Jerry Smith Field Office Manager, Battle Mountain FO
Stephanie Trujillo Administrative Assistant, Ely FO
Lori West NEPA Coordinator, Elko FO
Duane Wilson Rangeland Conservationist, Nevada SO
 
Other Attendees:
Ken Cook Un of Nevada, Reno, Gun Ranch
Larry Gilbertson Elko District Biologist, NDOW
Pat Irwin Ely District Ranger, Forest Service
Gary McCuin Nevada Dept of Agriculture
Ray Salisbury Lander County Public Lands Advisory Council
Sherm Swanson University of Nevada, Reno
Ray Williams, Jr. Lander County Public Lands Advisory Council
 
8:05 a.m. Vice Chair Hank Vogler called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone. Vogler called everyone’s attention to the changed agenda – that the field trip would be in the afternoon.
 
I. REVIEW/APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM PRIOR MEETINGS
- Minutes from the two prior meetings were reviewed (January 28th in Reno and October 22nd in Las Vegas). Sherri Eklund-Brown and Dave Gaskin noted that minor corrections need to be made.
Dave Gaskin made a motion to approve the minutes with corrections. The motion was seconded by Art Gale. All in favor.
 
II. PYGMY RABBIT STATUS UPDATE
- Larry Gilbertson, NDOW wildlife biologist in Elko gave the Pygmy Rabbit Status Update. Gilbertson distributed a handout. He asked "Is the pygmy rabbit the next sage grouse?" Answer is yes. Gilbertson described that he works with his counterpart in Las Vegas (Dr. Hines). They had summer students conduct surveys and put together a database that looked at the history of the pygmy rabbit.
As a "poster child" pygmy rabbits could be the wrong species; it is able to adapt to changes. Pygmy rabbits could be listed in small isolated. Dr Hines put together a study and is looking at 643 sites. Pygmy’s make own burrows. They breed in spring and have 7 to 8 young. This year is a good year for them. Some areas in the study have gone through several droughts and 41% of sites surveyed had a population. There is a burrow site and BLM and USFWS are collecting data from it. The rabbits’ habitat can go up to 7500-8500 ft elevation. There is more habitat than originally thought. There is good distribution of the rabbits in Nevada, but not true in other western states. Wyoming and Montana thought they had plenty.
- Hank Vogler asked if NDOW discriminates pygmy rabbits from cottontails during rabbit hunting season.
- Larry Gilbertson stated that no, the limit is still the same – 10 per day and 20 in possession.
- Hank Vogler asked if they live in decadent sage brush, does that put that species against species.
- Larry Gilbertson said that pygmy rabbits require old decadence, some adapt for old age.
- Art Gale asked if populations are highest in tallest brush?
- Larry Gilbertson responded that they pick high brush and they need soils they can burrow in.
- Helen Hankins asked what are the threats believed for their existence?
- Larry Gilbertson described that in Washington, the danger is in losing habitat. We have so much habitat in Nevada, it would be ridiculous for them to be listed.
- Jon Hutchings asked that in talking about activities of state restoration and habit is there a way that sage grouse and pygmy rabbits’ habitat can be maintained by creating mosaics and justifies species conservation?
- Larry Gilbertson said that habitat is not just a sage grouse problem. We need to maintain habitat for all species, look at watersheds and health of watersheds, when someone petitions list has to be looked at. America has the best wildlife management in the world and it is funded by sportsmen and hunters through the Pittman-Robertson Act.
In evaluating impacts of some projects, NDOW focused game animals and did not look at effects for other animals. However, in BLM’s Spruce Mountain chaining project, two pygmy rabbit burrows were found and NDOW will monitor them during the next phase of the project – seeding.
- Jon Hutchings asked if have we done as good a job as we can to prepare for the next threatened species … can we do a data transfer for what was developed for sage grouse?
- Larry Gilbertson responded that yes, but we can do better.
- Jerry Smith asked if information is available on Arc View. Answer – Yes.
- Larry Gilbertson described biologists working on the database.
- Gary McCuin asked where are we with a petition and how does it dovetail with NDOW’s conservation plan for all species?
- Larry Gilbertson said that he thinks pygmy rabbits are in the top ten species of the 600-800 species. NDOW supplied a lot of data. We may go down the road again.
- Helen Hankins remarked that the USF&WS is still in the first 90-day period. Then, they will make a recommendation. The first threshold should be close.
- Larry Gilbertson remarked that we’re close to the 90-day deadline now, but usually it’s late.
- Jo Dean said she had attended NDOW’s meeting in Elko and that the pygmy rabbit is the number four on the list as threatened and the habitat is hard to fix. This doesn’t seem to jive with what the RAC is being told.
- Larry stated the information in the list came from the non-game biologists at NDOW and is not accurate. Pygmy rabbit habitat in more widely distributed than originally thought. In his most recent work, Dr Hines’ study during drought indicated that they (pygmy rabbits) won’t be a threat in NV.
- Barry Perryman added that the UNR study showed more pygmy rabbit habitat now than in the last thousand years. Habitats in urban areas are threatened, but there is more inter-play with these pockets than first thought and the rabbits reproduce well.
- Larry Gilbertson said there is 500,000 to 1 million acre square miles of habitat in Nevada.
- Dave Tattam asked if there is any indication of what species will be next.
- Barry Perryman said sage sparrows.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked when NDOW’s study will be corrected since the language is not accurate.
- Larry Gilbertson said the plan was written for CARA money grants and was done very quickly.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked what the potential is if it (pygmy rabbit listing) does go forward for other states; can Nevada be excluded? Answer – Yes. Eklund-Brown noted that bull trout were listed even though there were healthy populations here.
-Hank Vogler discussed wolves and the impact on other states.
- Larry Gilbertson noted that Nevada was excluded from wolves’ historic range – there weren’t that many and Nevada was not critical habitat for wolves.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown noted that Elko County did a lot of work and that the County would comply with the Endangered Species Act.
- Jon Hutchings commented on the level of disruption of listing has on agencies. There are huge costs. Is there something that we can do to transfer our data to the next obligate species? We need to fix the conflicting data and the RAC can help.
- Larry Gilbertson said the RAC should participate in process and talked about conflicting data that has been collected; it should be reviewed closer.
- Jerry Smith asked if there have been any studies of the impacts of wildfires on pygmy rabbits.
- Barry Perryman said not to his knowledge. They prefer deep soils and shrubs; and fire suppression leads to more habitat in some areas because of the suppression, when active.
- Larry Gilbertson noted that it’s all time and money if it gets raised to the level of sage grouse. Some groups are looking at disruption.
- Barry remarked that with the Endangered Species Act there needs to be a way to avoid the frivolity of some petitions. With a 37-cent stamp and a name/address, the USF&WS must mobilize. The question is how to avoid the frivolous. He asked the RAC members to think about it.
- Jerry Smith commented that Congress is looking at this and RAC members can send letters to delegates, individually,
- Jo Simpson noted that the RAC cannot lobby Congress.
- Larry Gilbertson said that NDOW is looking for any discrepancies in the report and asked for public input now. Some writers may have dramatized needs or conditions of a species as part of public input.
- Barry Perryman asked if the public can review the NDOW plan. Answer – Yes
- Discussion about the NDOW meeting in Elko and how the NDOW plan was put together. Input from RAC members was encouraged.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked why NDOW doesn’t do studies like the USF&WS.
- Larry Gilbertson responded that NDOW does not have enough biologists and they don’t always agree with USF&WS – bull trout and sage grouse are good examples. NDOW has six biologists for hundreds of species in Nevada.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown commented that it is disturbing that the science is different for NDOW and USF&WS; they’re going by same law.
- Larry Gilbertson said that as a sportsman funded agency, they have concentrated on those animals, most knowledge is of game animals. The USF&WS has some data from the 50’s, but we may not agree with all that is studied.
- Helen Hankins commented that NDOW monitors many species in Nevada not even looked at by USF&WS.
- General discussion about the "37-cent stamp" endangered species listing request and the process of requesting a listing from the USF&WS.
 
III. CLARK, LINCOLN, AND WHITE PINE COUNTIES GROUND WATER DEVELOPMENT PROJECT UPDATE
- Bruce Flinn, BLM Project Manager for the Ground Water Development Project EIS, is employed by ENSR, a consulting company in Fort Collins, Colorado. Flinn distributed handouts and said the schedule of public meetings will be announced after the Federal Register Notice publishes. At this point, the tentative public meetings dates are:
April 26 - Ely; April 27 – Baker; April 28 – Caliente; May 3-Alamo; May 4 - Las Vegas;
May 5 – Reno; May 9 - Salt Lake City, Utah; May 10 - Cedar City, Utah; and May 11 - Delta, Utah.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked why more Nevada counties were not offered cooperating agency status.
- Bruce Flinn explained there are only three counties involved – White Pine, Lincoln, and Clark – based on looking at the hydrographic basins where the project occurs.
- Hank Vogler commented that Elko and Eureka counties may also be affected. Vogler also asked if there will be monitoring wells in other counties.
- Bruce Flinn said that they are using the mailing list for the Ely RMP which has 2500 names. People on the list will receive invitations to meetings, scoping comment forms, alternatives, list of issues, project description, etc. Scoping is scheduled to start next week and run through June 1st – which is an extended period. Normally, scoping lasts 30-45 days. There are many cooperating agencies – counties in Nevada and Utah, and state agencies. There are several others who said they want cooperating status, but we haven’t received their letters yet – BIA, NDOW, and Utah Governor.
- Hank Vogler asked what the charge is for the EIS, is this basically for the pipeline. What will be looked at and analyzed?
- Bruce Flinn described the EIS will be a comprehensive document with a range of alternatives that analyzes the impacts of developing up to 186,000 acre feet of water per year and transporting it to Las Vegas. The analysis will include the pipeline, pumping, alternative alignments, and more. For example, the Spring Valley line runs down Highway 93 and NDOW has identified leks down same path. A reduced pumping alternative (by at least half) will be analyzed. Biological models will look at impacts, vegetative communities; it will also look at an enhanced management to system and how long it takes for recharge to occur. The Southern Nevada Water Authority also wants better integration for Colorado River. If there is excess water, they may rest aquifers and use as a drought bank.
- Jon Hutchings asked why BLM’s role is evaluating all these areas.
- Bruce Flinn said it is management of the whole system. The EIS will look at watershed treatments in areas, and also look at a no action alternative. There are BLM and private water rights involved. During the BARCASS Study, the USGS and BLM will share information. There is a "no surprise" policy.
- Helen Hankins asked if there is a distinct determination of what happens to ground water, and BLM’s determination of what surface impacts are is separate.
- Bruce Flinn commented that Yes, BLM has water rights in a number of these basins, and there needs to be a lot of discussion on what kind of mitigation needs to be put into place for the public.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked if the study is being funded through the Lincoln County Land Act.
- Bruce Flinn said No, it is a separate study.
- Jo Simpson noted that rights-of–way (corridors) are included.
- Bruce Flinn added that utility corridors are being looked at in the Lincoln and White Pine areas also.
- General discussion about the intent of Congress with the Lincoln County Land Act and the process for the EIS.
- Bruce Flinn noted that the USGS is studying different basins and sharing information about magnetic surveys (flow data) to detect movement of water. BLM and USGS are sharing information.
- Jon Hutchings remarked there is a weakness – that the scope of the EIS is less than what Congress identified.
- Bruce Flinn concluded the presentation portion and discussed the map. It showed general information, breaking into three segments, the power line from Ely to Las Vegas, well field development areas. Flinn discussed the proposed water well field areas and alternatives for routing power. The Lincoln County Land Act has a provision for interstate Nevada-Utah agreement (Snake basin). Utah will wait for the EIS and will work as a cooperating agency (state hydrologist). The Nevada water engineer will not be a cooperating agency due to decisions which could be a conflict of interest. The Draft EIS is due out in July 2006 and the Final EIS in June 2007.
Break – 10:00 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.
- Bruce Flinn said that SWNA is providing a mass of data. The BLM EIS will focus on hydrologic and biologic information. BLM will run the data through the Technical Review Team of cooperating agencies.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked when the project will be open to Elko and Eureka counties and noted that data from SWNA limits who can be a cooperating agency.
- Bruce Flinn said that data will be available on the internet and it will be a transparent process. The data will be modeled and the team will look at the model factors as well.
SWNA has a fleet of specialists who will take the information through technical review in four large chunks, raw data, water rights, and any other information that BLM has missed.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown noted that self funding could be biased.
- Bruce Flinn said that is why it is going to be submitted to the technical review team.
- Sheri Eklund Brown asked if there are more basin transfers will Eureka and other counties be offered cooperating agency status.
- Bruce Flinn said that BLM is open to discussion.
- Helen Hankins notes that anyone can look at the data except for archeology.
- Hank Vogler asked how many rights have been adjudicated.
- Bruce Flinn stated that the State Engineer will take information and make decisions about what is available and he will wait for the EIS. He has been very conservative in his approach - how data will be used, (modeling factors). He will ask the review team for changes or differences. The modeling (water model) will be basin specific and then the total will be evaluated, both pros and cons. The monitoring plan is critical to longtime management, and the draft will be included in EIS. The EIS will document the range of thinking for the model. It will address mitigation and how monitoring will be done. The generic answer is that with modeling the effects may not be known for years.
- Hank Vogler remarked that this is why White Pine County is on pins and needles.
- Bruce Flinn said that Bob Abbey realizes that public resources need to be protected, and modeling is going to be a swag - how aquifers and valleys respond.
- Dave Tattam asked if there will be a two week span on review of data.
- Bruce Flinn said there will be five months to review modeling, factors, significant gaps, etc.
- Bill Upton noted that the capital involved is $2 billion.
- Bruce Flinn – SWNA has met to discuss how all factors fit together for the next 30 yrs. The $2 billion break down is not being disclosed yet. Southern Nevada is using a conservative approach as they do not believe that they will be given what is asked for.
- General discussion about modeling, and water in Snake and Spring valleys.
- Barry Perryman noted that a modeling mitigation concern is that hydrology models operate on gross scale (fictional) affects of fluctuations. Shallow ground water is good to have in the model; not having the information before it may be to late – dying plants. A misconception of mitigation is you can’t throw money at everything to fix it. It can affect tens of thousands of acres of vegetation.
- Sherm Swanson said the in the probable range of effects, BLM has the ability to cause mitigation to make it better over here. Kay Brothers talked about funding proactive mitigation as part of their agenda. There is committed mitigation (Proposed), and un-committed mitigation (BLM responsibilities). Where do the roles lie?
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked when BLM can enforce.
- Bruce Flinn replied when a decision is signed by Bob Abbey, the wording is not decided.
- Bill Upton noted that in mining NEPA, there is financial assurance.
- Bruce Flinn said that financial assurance not an issue, Southern Nevada is a public entity, they have unlimited capabilities.
- Hank Vogler asked does the state have the right to appropriate the water for Las Vegas growth.
- Bruce Flinn said that the final decision on water appropriation is with the State Engineer. There will be many meetings.
- Helen Hankins asked as far as the RAC is concerned, is Gene Kolkman looking for comments, etc., from the RAC or is this just for the benefit and information sharing.
- Jon Hutchings remarked that the RAC is to help, advise, or guide BLM decision making. How the EIS develops, and the impacts and precedent it may have for future water issues - the RAC should have a more active role in the process.
- Helen Hankins made a suggestion that each RAC meeting have an update, or have RAC act a sub-advisory review. Make it a standing report for each agenda.
 
IV. RANGELAND MONITORING PARTNERSHIP
- Presentations and discussions by Rick Orr, Gary McCuin, Sherm Swanson, and Barry Perryman. Jon Hutchings distributed a handout. They were tasked by Helen Hankins and Gene Kolkman to establish a procedure to provide the cooperating partnership – what data needed to be included, how to incorporate the data and to review/revise the rangeland task force issues.
- Gary McCuin gave a power point presentation and touched on a number of issues:
Nevada rangeland management update, the monitoring rangeland task force critical for stabilizing
- Livestock grazing has come under increasing pressure of lawsuits.
- Federal lands ranchers believe these rangeland monitoring needs must be level
- Allotment level monitoring
- Observations need to be annual
- Interpretation of monitoring data is important
- Monitoring process simple, straightforward
- National assessment of rangeland condition
- Completion of rangeland soil surveys and ecological classification
- Joint monitoring protocol
- Statement of purpose: Stabilizing and improving range conditions
- Encourage livestock permittees to work with BLM, continue working for those within the last five years. BLM may check data and conduct random reviews, coordinate, consult and communicate with many different entities.
- Sherm Swanson led a discussion about monitoring year and a half ago, and the decision to rewrite the rangeland monitoring handbook. It is 20 years out of date. A group met and an outline was sent out to reviewers. Differences are:
o The concept of adapted management, continually doing better, more diversity and tools to use.
o The big issue - riparian issue was not dealt with in 1984, is put into the new revised handbook.
o It is useful what vegetation is on an ecological site and descriptions can do.
o Embrace the idea that monitoring requires short term monitoring, and also track trend.
o Focus on moving to cooperative monitoring, permittees monitoring own, learning and recording of land and livestock.
o Plant utilization issues: grazing: when, how much, when not grazed, etc.
o Currently it is a 67-page document. Version 4 is out for review with the team. There is a meeting scheduled for May 3, 2005 in Reno.
 
11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. – Break for Lunch
 
1:15 p.m. – Vice Chairman Hank Vogler called the meeting to order
- Rick Orr asked if the handbook includes a listing of participants.
- Sherm Swanson said that it does not and needs to.
- Hank Vogler remarked that it’s important that monitoring shows the dynamics in timeline being addressed.
- Barry Perryman said there are advantages to permittees monitoring - BLM does not have the personnel or time to monitor. We need to come up with a way to have permittees do their own monitoring with cooperation of the agency. We need to have an incentive such as possibly provide more AUMs, season of use change, etc. It opens up an opportunity for the agency and the permittee to look at all issues and aspects of monitoring. There will be training schools offered this year (pilot) possibly a week long.
- Sherm Swanson noted that rangeland management is not just livestock management.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked if this was a federal mandate. A political environment has been encountered.
- Sherm Swanson said it not a mandate, but an opportunity.
- Gary McCuin said it is not just measuring something to do it, but why are you doing it – uses an objective-based approach. The Cooperative Extension developed a course for Nevada (i.e. cool season grasses). The first course will be a "101" follow-up with a field day. The course can be adapted for the specific needs of the attendees, and will be helpful for agency and permittees. The goal is to get producers to do the annual monitoring.
- Barry Perryman noted that Western Watersheds requested to be an interested party for the Elko, White Pine, Reno, etc., areas. There is an apparent need for the monitoring and tools in place for the implementation. What is needed is the framework. What role can the RAC fulfill for this? We need to decide what the scope is and work out the kinks – day-to-day appropriate monitoring may be expanded down the road.
- Rick Orr said there are policy issues for acceptance. We are signatory to the PLUAC agreement. A concern that when initiated only four people responded statewide to do monitoring - it could be a time issue. How can we generate more interest? He would like to see the RAC to present at the Tri-RAC.
- General discussion about time frames, training, and certification for attending the course.
- Jon Hutchings noted we have people who are interested working with this and creating a model/pilot project.
- Hank Vogler asked what about the state agencies. Area 113 is one allotment and last fall 589 head of Elk were within this area. We need agencies to sign off.
- Jerry Smith added that they have to buy into it and have to validate the collection of the data (quality control). We should possibly invite NDOW and others on those validation trips - it may help increase interest.
- Dave Tattam suggested inviting special interest groups to the training.
- Barry Perryman said that buy-in of others will take place at an objective meeting where there is input from other agencies.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked if the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association is involved.
- Gary McCuin stated that Yes, they are involved. We’re not starting brand new; we’re using old sites.
- Jerry Smith commented that they have the base line data already in place, etc.
- Barry Perryman added that the basic framework is in place; if a permittee wants to monitor I will teach him as a requirement of the state (my job).
- Sheri Eklund Brown recommended that Preston Wright to be involved. Gary McCuin confirmed that he is already involved.
- Barry Perryman remarked that he brought up the idea at a meeting and received unexpected appreciation and agreement, even by older ranchers.
- Rick Orr asked that after the initial discussions, do you feel that there are any actions by BLM or RAC that need to take place.
- Jon Hutchings said yes –
o RAC needs to appoint subcommittee and outline action items
o Subcommittee members need to help BLM develop data validation requirements
o Help select a pilot project
o Develop a mechanism to communicate with other groups
- Sheri Eklund-Brown suggested doing a presentation to the cattle industry.
- Rick Orr said we need a cooperative monitoring process and lay out the plan - who, what, where – and include what techniques are to be used.
- Sherm Swanson asked if there is a format (fill-in form) that could be used to help others, to make it easier.
- Jerry Smith suggested keeping the big blue book separate from the producers and monitoring handbooks.
- Sherm Swanson added that it would make a good appendix.
- Jo Simpson asked if the group would you want to reach out to the other RACS and ranching committee, or do a pilot and then present to others.
- Barry Perryman suggested "getting our ducks in a row first."
- General discussion about involving the other RACs. Agreed to concentrate on NE RAC but consider including a representation on this project - John Fallon and Sherm from the Sierra Front Northwestern Great Basin RAC and Marta Agee and Bill Mull from the Mojave Southern RAC,
Dave Tattam made a motion to create a RAC sub-committee to develop the monitoring handbook. Sheri Eklund-Brown seconded the motion. A vote of the members present was all in favor.
- After discussion, members of the committee will be: Art Gale, Berry Perryman, Hank Vogler, John Hutchings, Rick Orr, Gary McCuin, Duane Wilson, Doug Furtado, Sherm Swanson, Marta Agee, and Karl Scheetz.
- Rick Orr requested emails from all so he could set up a teleconference. An update will be given at the next RAC meeting in Elko on May 20th.
- Jon Hutchings thanked Rick Orr for organizing this.
 
V. MINING UPDATE
- Dave Gaskin gave the mining update.
o There is a new liaison for NDEP and BLM that is being co-funded
o Standard Unit Costs for reclamation are about to be released
o Newmont’s Emigrant Project is progressing
o There is a NEPA taskforce and Dave is a member. One question being addressed is can BLM require an agency to be a cooperating agency.
o A Gold Quarry Oversite panel has been formed with a broad spectrum of people
- Rick Orr gave an update for Gene Kolkman. For the Ely RMP EIS, they are finalizing Chapter 2 and concentrating also on Chapter 4 Analysis. The Draft RMP is scheduled to be mailed to the public on July 1st, with the Final EIS in December this year, and the ROD in summer 2006.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked how long is the process and how much does it cost.
- Rick Orr replied on average three years, and the Ely RMO is close to 12 million acres.
- Jerry Smith said the national average is $17.5 million in Nevada, and $12.5 million nationally and takes an average of 3 years. It is costing more then anticipated. Funding directed to oil and gas RMPs has gone down, will not initiate any new starts.
- Jo Simpson noted that BLM received money from Congress funding for planning, and they are costing more and taking longer to do.
- Jerry Smith noted that the Battle Mountain Field Office RMP is scheduled to begin in 2007.
- Bill Upton noted that the NEPA process takes a lot of time and tremendous cost is incurred. Projects are delayed for weeks waiting for each Federal Register Notice to print.
- General discussion about Federal Register Notices – the Washington Office requests full review of every Federal Register Notice, and they sit on many desks with an average of ten weeks to be published.
- Bill Upton will draft a letter from the RAC to the Secretary of Interior about concerns for the Federal Register Notice process and present it at the next meeting on May 20, 2005.
 
VI FIELD MANAGERS’ AND DISTRICT RANGERS’ REPORTS
- Jerry Smith talked about budget priorities that are impacting filling positions for the Battle Mountain Field Office. Wild Horse Appropriate Management Level (AML) has been set for the Field Office, but may not be set in all of Nevada this year.
- Hank Vogler asked where the Forest Service would fall into the range monitoring process.
- Pat Irwin said they are involved with wind energy. There are inactive proposals for the Schell range and Ward Mountain. They still need more info before moving forward. The Forest Service is working with BLM on the Monte Cristo fall gather. The have a large burn planned (3000 acres) south of White Pine line in Nye County. All the national forest system is diving into travel management planning. By September 30, 2005, the Humboldt Toyabe is to have a proposed action identified which designates roads for motorized and non-motorized.
- General discussion about the Forest Service travel management effort including issues about travel to maintain waterholes and range improvements. This will be a sensitive issue.
Public Comment Period opened at 1:30 p.m.
- Ray Williams (Austin, Nevada) with the Lander County Public Lands Users Advisory Committee registered a formal complaint about the agenda for this meeting being changed after it was published.
- Ray Salisbury (Austin, Nevada) with the Lander County Public Lands Users Advisory Committee asked if the tour would be taking place. He explained that he and Mr. Williams drove from Austin this morning thinking the tour would be in the morning as stated in the published agenda.
- Hank Vogler said the tour would begin as soon as the meeting adjourned if there was no additional public comment.
Dave Tattam motioned that the meeting adjourn and the motion was seconded by Jo Dean. 3:00 p.m. business meeting adjourned and field tour begins.
 
VII TOUR OF FUEL REDUCTION PROJECTS
- Chad Lewis and Jerry Smith led the tour of the Northeastern Eureka Project which focused on addressing pinion/juniper concerns.
1st Stop - Chad Lewis pointed out the 30-foot minimum canopy spacing, to stop a running crown fire. The project done for the town and residents of Eureka - all the areas were analyzed, and then fire crews went in and did a mechanical "buck-out" treatment due to cultural resources that were found in the area. Before treatment there were 29-30 tons per acre and after treatment there are 10-20 tons per acre. They left the large wood for the residents to collect; all other will be burned or chipped.
- Art Gale asked if an inventory of the under story was done before the treatment.
- Chad Lewis said yes, but not the same as a range conservationist would most likely do.
We are seeing some recovery,
- Ray Williams asked why this area was not done as a cut out.
- Chad Lewis said because of the increase in cost.
- Jerry Smith remarked that the community did not want it cleared,
- Pat Irwin stated if some trees remain then you will again have seedlings, eventually the materials will come back.
- Chad Lewis explained that the sites will be monitored, seeded if needed, hoping that there is plenty of surrounding seed to help the area.
- Jerry Smith commented that Nevada has the highest cost of seeding/fuel reduction of any state.
- Chad Lewis added that Ely has a project that they are in cooperation with the school district to use the chips as alternative heating; the product is too massive for the consumption of the school.
2nd Stop - Actual site where mechanical fuel reduction was used. Chad Lewis pointed out the hazard of using chainsaw and held up a wire, the trees become too bushy to see
Trees are marked with spray paint (blue), these are the trees that are not removed, which makes it easier for the crews that are doing the actual removal. The paint is rated for a year and will actually wash off in a good rainstorm. Piles that are seen will be eliminated by pile burns if not insects and disease may become present. Doing pile burns will keep spots away from the town/community.
- Pat Irwin asked if private land owners are they complimenting this effort.
- Chad Lewis replied that some are.
3rd Stop - Hog Pen Road Site in view of the 30-foot canopy and chips. Chad Lewis explained that the Nevada Division of Forestry did the chipping. They accessed the area via the power line road. The under story is still significant in this area.
- Art Gale noted that the chips are holding the moisture in the ground which is good to see.
- Chad Lewis added that the wind is a factor for this area - if the chips were not along the ground this area would dry sooner. Crews have raked the area, but there are still plenty chips on the ground as cover.
 
Tour ended approximately 4:30 p.m.
 
Date Approved: May 20, 2005
Approved by: Hank Vogler, Vice Chair
 
Minutes by Stephanie Trujillo and Mike Brown
 

 
Last updated: 03-07-2007