U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
May 20, 2005
BLM Elko Field Office, Elko, 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
Les Hansen (2) Dispersed Recreation
Jeff White (1) Energy/Minerals
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Representatives Present:
Mike Brown Public Affairs Officer, Elko FO
Helen Hankins Field Office Manager, Elko FO
Cathie Jensen Lands/Minerals Supervisor, Elko FO
Rick Orr Field Office Manager, Caliente FS
Pete McFadden Assistant Field Manager, Ely FO
Dave Pacioretty Associate Field Manager, Elko FO
Ryan Pitts Range Conservationist, Ely FO
Maxine Perrine Range Clerk, Elko FO
Jerry Smith Field Office Manager, Battle Mountain FO
Larry Barngrover Public (former RAC member)
Marti Collins Manager, Ruby Lake Wildlife Refuge
Leta Collord President, Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group
Hough Lannigan Ruby Mtn/Jarbidge District Ranger, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
June McMillen Public Affairs Officer, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
Ralph Sacrison Public
8:20 a.m. In the absence of the chair and vice-chair, RAC member Jeff White
called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone, and led the introductions.
I. REVIEW/APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM PRIOR MEETINGS
Corrected minutes from the prior meeting were reviewed (March 31st in Eureka).
Sheri Eklund-Brown made a motion to approve the corrected minutes. The motion was seconded by Art Gale. In a vote of the members present, all in favor.
II. CLARK, LINCOLN, AND WHITE PINE COUNTIES GROUND WATER DEVELOPMENT PROJECT UPDATE
- Gene Kolkman briefed the RAC via speaker phone as he is unable to travel yet. All the public scoping meetings are completed. Meetings were held in Ely, Baker, Caliente, Alamo, Salt Lake City, Reno, Las Vegas, and Delta. The meetings were well attended and there was a lot of strong emotion. There were a lot of like-minded people at the meetings and the universal public sentiment is opposed to the project.
Issues raised at the meetings are substantive and sweeping. There were concerns for groundwater impacts, socio-economic impacts, impacts to wildlife, impacts to agriculture and ranching. A gamut of issues was expressed and BLM is sorting through them now.
One person in Ely requested that the meetings be taped … but we did not. Because we heard so many issues during scoping, there will be more public meetings scheduled to do feedback. BLM does not normally do these types of additional meetings.
A major issue we heard is that BLM should delay the EIS until the USGS finishes its report. BLM should wait and take advantage of the report. USGS, University of Nevada Las Vegas and BLM are working on the report. BLM is using the same data. The USGS report to Congress will be narrow – it’s just the basins identified in the Bill. The EIS is taking a much broader look and will go further than the USGS report. There will be public comment on both documents. Although there is no reason to delay, perception is reality and people believe it’s a critical issue. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is in a hurry and Las Vegas is at risk of running out of water.
- Art Gale asked if the USGS report will the basis of the BLM’s study. He also asked if the BLM will look at springs.
- Gene Kolkman said we evaluate areas with monitoring.
- Sheri Eklund stated that Elko County is upset regarding cooperating agency status.
- Gene Kolkman said that BLM is struggling with this issue; you can make a argument that every county should be a cooperating agency, on the other hand it’s next to impossible to manage a project with 100 bosses.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown expressed concern that the project is publicly funded and not open to counties.
- Gene Kolkman said the meetings can be opened where everyone interested could get the information that the counties need. Several counties in Utah are interested in cooperating agency status and Nye County will send a letter.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown commented that we have just as much at stake as the Utah counties and as much money as Southern Nevada Water Authority is bringing to the table; the process needs to be open.
- Gene Kolkman asked if Sheri Eklund-Brown would help in a group. Kolkman asked Helen Hankins if a RAC sub-group would work with him on how to involve the counties.
- Art Gale stated that Jon Hutchings couldn’t be here to day but is sure he would like to be on the committee.
- Gene Kolkman said the two issues we are struggling with are the USGS report and how to involve the counties.
-Sheri Eklund-Brown suggested BLM should wait until the USGS report is issued.
- Jeff White agreed that perception is reality and that it doesn’t make sense that a detailed technical report is coming out after the Draft EIS is issued.
- Gene Kolkman asked if this would be something for a RAC resolution. He asked for RAC advice on:
1. County involvement versus cooperating agency status and
2. USGS BARCASS study.
- Helen Hankins announced that there would be a satellite broadcast next week about cooperating agencies and invited any interested RAC members to attend.
- General discussion about the role of the State Water Engineer in the process and timing of his decisions vis-à-vis the BLM EIS and USGS report.
- Gene Kolkman commented that we never know what’s going on under ground. It’s the State Engineer’s decision how much water can be sent to Clark County. Under NEPA, BLM must discuss all environmental impacts. BLM has water for wild horses, and protect the uses and trying to be objective how we do that. The other issue is the geology and how do we go through this process and how do we protect over all land health. BLM must address impacts and issue rights-of-way that Congress directed.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked if the Lincoln County Land Act decisions are contingent on BLM’s EIS.
- Gene Kolkman replied, No, Congress said do the analysis and issue the right-of-way.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked what if the analysis is negative; can Congress make BLM do it anyway.
- Gene Kolkman said NEPA requires BLM to disclose impacts.
- Discussion about Congressional authority and issuing rights-of-way.
- Art Gale asked that even with the analysis and opposition from the public, the project will happen anyway.
- Gene Kolkman replied yes, the rights-of-way will be issued; but it doesn’t equal pipeline being built. The pipeline will go it, but under what conditions. The State Engineer authorizes the amount of water that can be extracted, but BLM is responsible for managing resources.
- Helen Hankins commented that this is an open process for public involvement – scoping and the Draft EIS.
- Gene Kolkman asked if the other RACs would participate in a sub-committee as well.
- Jo Dean remarked that she understands that the State Engineer must do the greatest good for the greatest number of people; and that even in Congress approves the project, there is still litigation available.
- Helen Hankins said the Congress has spoken, 70% of the pipeline right-of-way will be issued.
- Gene Kolkman recommended that RAC members participate as much as possible.
- General discussion about NEPA, water drilling, and implementing the proposal.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown commented that she met with one of the Clark County Commissioners and asked where the growth will stop … there needs to be limits.
- Helen Hankins said the RAC can work at the state level as well and influence the process. Hankins discussed the Winecup Ranch sale and said the web site talked about the water rights. It is a State of Nevada decision how much water can be transferred – not a BLM decision.
-Sheri Eklund-Brown said that most of the legislature is from Las Vegas and it will come down to will we sacrifice part of Nevada’s ecosystem and environment for Las Vegas.
- Gene Kolkman remarked that Nevada water law is based on use. Kolkman thanked the Elko County Commissioner for the invitation to speak to them.
- Jeff White encouraged RAC members to read the book "The Water Seekers."
- Art Gale commented that one only has to go to Diamond Valley 100 miles south – the same thing happened there. Gale talked about the interagency study which shows movement from Roberts Mountain to Diamond Valley. Gale pointed about that Diamond Valley has 150,000 acre feet per year going out and 120,000 acre feet coming in. The springs are gone and water at the Pony Express station has dried up. The reality is that Las Vegas is not going to shut off pumps to golf courses if a few springs dry up.
- General discussion about the Southern Nevada Water Authority mitigation. How can you mitigate drying up a spring?
- Jeff White offered a tour to Newmont to look at mine watering/dewatering and discussed how mines do monitoring.
- General discussion about monitoring and involvement.
- Jo Dean remarked that we should explore alternative methods. For Lake Meade, 45% goes to Mexico by treaty. If a desalination plant were built in Mexico, the Las Vegas could use water in Lake Meade. There are other alternatives to pumping; this is not the only solution to the water problem
- Jeff White asked if the RAC wants to form a sub-group to address cooperating agency status.
- Jerry Smith commented that if a sub-group is formed, they may want to involve the Mojave Southern RAC.
- General discussion about Newmont’s mine dewatering, agricultural monitoring wells, pumping, and water flows down the Humboldt.
Sheri Eklund-Brown made a motion to form a standing RAC subcommittee for the Clark, Lincoln, and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development Project Environmental Impact Statement. Art Gale seconded the motion. In a vote of the members present, all in favor.
Art Gale made a recommendation that BLM not proceed with the EIS until the results of the USGS BARCAS Study are available. Sheri Eklund-Brown seconded the motion. In a vote of the members present, all in favor.
- Jeff White asked for volunteers for the subcommittee to work with Gene Kolkman. The subcommittee members are Jo Dean, Jon Hutchings, and Sheri-Eklund Brown.
Sheri Eklund-Brown moved to withdraw her former motion and change it to: That the Northeastern Great Basin RAC sends recommendations as a policy statement to Gene Kolkman in Ely that:
The EIS come after the USGS BARCAS Study is completed.
All meetings with cooperating agencies are open to interested parties.
Request meetings with other Nevada RACs and the Utah RAC.
Art Gale seconded the motion. In a vote of the members present, all in favor.
Break – 10:00 a.m. to 10:10 a.m.
III. ELKO FIELD OFFICE LAND SALES
- Helen Hankins discussed the Elko Field Office land sales program. BLM wants to set up a plan for the next 5 years for land disposals. Hankins asked for recommendations and/or advice from the RAC on which parcels to dispose, then BLM will develop a schedule. This is part of a commitment of being more effective land managers. BLM is working with counties and publics.
- Cathie Jensen, BLM Elko Field Office Supervisory Resource Management Specialist, briefed the RAC on Elko’s land disposals and distributed a handout. Jensen described last year’s sales – BLM started with 23 parcels and five made it through to the sale. Two parcels were sold at the Elko auction and the remaining three were sold in the Las Vegas sale this past spring and they sold for well over appraisal. The sales are done under The Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act of 2000 (FLTFA) and the law ends in 2010. Lands must be identified in land use plans as suitable for disposal.
For this year’s sale, BLM started with 16 parcels and now have 11. Input from communities or resource values can cause parcels to drop out. Appraisals for the parcels will be requested in the next month and the sale will be later this year. This year’s parcels total about 4400 acres. They are near Dunphy, west of Wendover, Boulder Valley, south of Jackpot, and in the Montello area. Next year BLM will look at parcels west of Montello, near Carlin, and south of Wells.
Jensen asked the RAC for input regarding 2006 or 2007 land sale parcels by the end of June 2005.
- Helen Hankins commented that BLM has asked NDOW for lands to be identified for the next five years.
- Art Gale asked where BLM gets the funding to do the studies on the parcels.
- Cathie Jensen said BLM gets funding from SNPLMA and 20% of the gross from the last sale.
- Art Gale asked if the cost of the study adds into the appraised price.
- Cathie Jensen said no, the appraisals are contracted. There is a Department of Interior Board who reviews the appraisals.
- Clint Oke restated that BLM would like input for land sales through 2010.
- Helen Hankins said that BLM Elko Field Office will start a new RMP in 2009.
- General discussion about parcels, how to identify them, how to obtain maps (BLM can supply) and how the land sales work with sealed bids and oral auction.
- Jeff White asked if mineral rights are separated out.
- Helen Hankins said yes, they are.
IV. RANGELAND MONITORING PARTNERSHIP
- Rick Orr briefed the RAC on the status of the project and distributed a handout. The main areas for RAC involvement are:
1. Communication with the other RACs and development of a unified recommendation and procedure for implementing cooperative monitoring efforts to the State Director for inclusion in BLM policy guidance.
2. Oversight to insure that education efforts for procedures are timely and available.
3. Be a focus for accountability in the process through being a Sounding Board/ Advisory Board to the process. (Not a mediator role, more policy/direction, etc.)
4. Include Cooperative Monitoring as a regular agenda item to address policy, direction, progress, issues and problems, etc.
A fifth role was added:
5. Identify one participant per RAC for credibility and oversight.
BLM and the producer or agent’s role would be:
Establish a formal written agreement with the appropriate agencies and organizations (i.e. possibly RACs, BLM, UNR, CARNR, USFS, Cattlemen’s Association, Farm Bureau, Wool Growers, and others as appropriate) detailing the purposes, use, and intent of the Monitoring Handbook, Producers Handbook, and Monitoring and Range School. This would be similar to the MOU developed for implementing the use of the original Monitoring Handbook.
Develop a comprehensive Monitoring Agreement with the prospective permittees and/or their agents. (Details of proposed Monitoring Agreement in the handout on file with these Minutes.)
- Rick Orr asked the RAC members for input or additions to the lists.
- Jeff White asked if this is for livestock/rangeland monitoring and a revision of the 82 handbook.
- Rick Orr said it is broader than that and will be for other resources including livestock.
- Art Gale asked if it will be possible for producers to do their own monitoring.
- Rick Orr remarked that it takes time to do this right. The goal is to use anyone’s monitoring data and all of it is done the same way. The RAC’s role is oversight; BLM and the producers’ role is that the work is done correctly, and UNR’s role is technical review and training.
- Helen Hankins said that BLM will continue monitoring what we can; BLM is still responsible for know what the conditions are. BLM is not abdicating responsibility, but sharing it.
- Art Gale suggested doing a pilot project. There may need to be incentives eventually.
The methods and techniques should be standard and the same standards should be used. We all need to run on the same data.
- Rick Orr commented that we want this to be consistent - what is going to be collected and by whom.
- Jerry Smith commented the three RACs do not set policy, but provide advice and recommendation. Regarding the Agent’s role, when BLM does agreements they are with the permittees or representatives, not an agent. Where is public input in this process?
- Rick Orr said that is a difficult question.
- Jerry Smith noted that anyone can appeal agreements.
- Helen Hankins commented that the committee needs to look at public input and agreements.
- General discussion about appeals, the appeal process, and potential challenges for implementing the project.
- Art Gale asked how BLM will decide who gets picked to do the monitoring.
- Rick Orr stated that perhaps the RAC could set criteria to help BLM decide.
- Jerry Smith noted that if BLM can’t negotiate an agreement … then it won’t happen. We have to agree up front.
- Rick Orr commented that there needs to be a history of success first.
- Art Gale added that it is a wait and see what the neighbor does situation.
- Rick Orr said that possibly Preston Wright would be the first. The RAC could help identify good candidates. It boils down to whether people agree to the Comprehensive Agreement.
On August 3, 2005 there will be a tour at the Gunn Ranch and on August 4th a training session for the Monitoring Workshop. The Gunn Ranch is in Grass Valley north of Austin.
- The Committee working on the project includes Helen Hankins, Jerry Smith, Gene Kolkman, Rick Orr, Barry Perryman, Sherm Swanson, Ben Bread, Jon Hutchings, Art Gale, John McClean, Gary McCuin, Marta Agee, and Preston Wright.
V. OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE TRANSPORTATION PLANNING
- Jerry Smith distributed a handout about OHV planning efforts in the Battle Mountain Field Office. The first project is the Shoshone Range OHV Trail System. We are working with an ATV association and are looking at developing the trails close to the Mill Creek area. We had concerns from NDOW and we are working on these concerns. Next, we will do the scoping and a public scoping meeting will be held in the Battle Mountain Field Office. We are working with the permittees and are working to have an EA for the routed area.
- Les Hansen commented that the trail system is using existing roads and trails with only a few connectors. New trails are not being pioneered. It is being planned very well.
- Jerry Smith said the by the July RAC meeting in Battle Mountain, a map will be available. Smith discussed various projects including transportation route inventory of 300,000 acres in the vicinity of Eureka, Beatty and Gilbert Creek, Lander County. The initial OHV partnership development with Nye County is underway. Discussions have begun with Eureka County and Eureka Economic Development Board for a potential Silver State Trail designation in White Pine County. Battle Mountain is also working with the Ely Field Office to share use of a SWECO trail-building dozer. The Field Office has started coordination with counties to manage two dune areas – Crescent Dunes in Nye County and Clayton Dunes in Esmeralda County.
- General discussion about the SWECO equipment and how it is used.
- Sheri Eklund Brown asked if Lander County applied for Question 1 funds.
- Les Hansen replied, yes, but the money cannot be used for equipment.
- Jo Dean asked if the 300,000 acres being inventoried is for 2-tracks and roads.
- Jerry Smith said, yes, they are doing it with GIS.
- Art Gale asked if BLM is steering the routes around PMUs.
- Jerry Smith said, yes, they are talking with cooperators. NDOW’s first reaction was negative so they backed off and identified alternatives which worked with NDOW. They avoided riparian areas and sage grouse areas.
- Les Hansen remarked that most people who use the trails are not hot-doggers, but are responsible people.
- Helen Hankins reported for the Elko Field Office. We started the process for a trail on Spruce Mountain for summer use and underestimated concerns of NDOW’s for mule deer habitat. We have had four appeals. We are meeting with the appellants whose biggest concern is habitat fragmentation. Every one wants it limited to existing roads. The appellants want BLM to develop a travel management plan for Spruce Mountain. Hankins has asked Les Hansen to help BLM. Eventually, there will be a plan for the entire field office area. It’s a use that is continuing, so it’s best to manage it, not ignore it. There are historical resources on Spruce Mountain that need to be worked on. Hopefully by the next RAC meeting in July, Spruce Mountain will be resolved. We will continue to involve the public.
- Les Hansen commented that most growth will occur in sand dune areas. Hansen has seen outfits from Sacramento in Winnemucca who used to go to Sand Mountain.
- Discussion about the State of Nevada and Elko County Visitor’s Authority marketing OHV opportunities, and the need for OHV licensing.
- Pete McFadden said Ely is working on the Duck Creek Basin and is doing the same thing as Elko and is working with White Pine and Lander counties.
- Rick Orr commented that the Lincoln County Land Act designated a 260-mile long trail.
- Les Hansen remarked that the concept is to develop a trail across the state.
- Jo Dean asked what about following the Pony Express Trail.
- Les Hansen said that idea was looked at.
- Jerry Smith said Highway 50 provides good access to the trails. OHV planning will be done in upcoming land use plans. BLM is trying to get ahead of the game and get the data together to make better/informed decisions when putting together the land use plan.
- Helen Hankins said Elko is working with the Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group and their Recreation Pod. Hankins asked the RAC to support a group.
Les Hansen made a motion that a subcommittee be formed to work with NDOW and OHV groups for Spruce Mountain and trail planning in other areas. Sheri Eklund-Brown seconded the motion. In a vote of the members present, all in favor.
- Jo Dean commented that in California there are problems with snow machines going into Wilderness Areas. The Forest Service is having problems and is unable to keep them out. The licensing tags are too small to read. This is something to keep in mind.
- Jeff white remarked that as a society we’re relying on user groups to police themselves.
- June McMillen said that the Forest Service is moving towards a national standard for OHV using only existing designated routes and the rest of the Forest is closed to OHVs.
- General discussion about responsible users and staying out of Wilderness Areas.
VI. MINING UPDATE
- Dave Gaskin gave the Mining Update. Gaskin has been working with Clint Oke on the Barrick Gold Strike Plan of Operations – clarifying what’s public and what’s – and for bonding and reclamation.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked if it is different for public versus private.
- Dave Gaskin said they follow 3809 regulations and the State is very similar.
- Helen Hankins asked if there were a toxic spill, would the State address that.
- Dave Gaskin replied that the State is dealing with reclamation. BLM would still have authority. They have to clarify what is covered under the public bond and what would be covered under the private bond.
- General discussion about bonding and public versus private responsibilities.
- Dave Gaskin said they are still talking w/ the parties for Standard Unit Costs, but nothing resolved yet. For the Emigrant Project, EPA wants more information on waste rock. Their new liaison is going around to various offices and is doing well.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown said Elko County received a letter about Emigrant Project impacts to the road.
- Helen Hankins commented that the comment period is still open and BLM will respond to the letter. BLM, Newmont, and NDOT need to meet.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown said the concerns about impacts to the road are coming from the Eureka County Commission.
- Helen Hankins added that we will address the comments and if anything needs to be done on the highway we will work with NDOT.
- Dave Gaskin said they are dealing with the Toxic Release Inventory which just came out. People in Utah and Idaho are concerned with mercury emissions. NDEP is having discussions with EPA and their press officer. These are scare tactics in Utah and Idaho that the mercury in fish is linked to Nevada. Mercury levels are done 40 to 70%.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked about the Gold Quarry slide.
- Dave Gaskin said an investigation is going on now.
- Jeff White commented that Newmont is doing a drilling program to get samples to send to their consultant and the University of Illinois. Newmont is making progress and next month should start making repairs. They are looking for the cause and will develop a long-term stabilization plan. It was an anomalous event and should not happen with other waste rock facilities.
- Sheri Eklund Brown asked if there is a plan for constructing waste rock facilities. How is planning done for different soil types?
- Jeff White said this dump was constructed before regulation. They are sorted, engineered, and constructed accordingly.
- Dave Gaskin said it will be 6 to 8 months study for the slide.
- Jeff White said they will have something in place before next winter.
- Dave Gaskin commented that it was one of the few failures of a waste rock dump in Nevada.
- Jeff White discussed the draft letter from Bill Upton for review regarding times required for publishing Federal Register Notices.
- Jerry Smith noted one correction in the first sentence - Environmental Impact Statement.
Art Gale made a motion to approve the letter with the correction. Sheri Eklund-Brown seconded the motion. In a vote of the members present, all in favor.
Break for lunch 12:10 p.m.
Reconvened 1:30 p.m.
Jeff White opened the Public Comment Period
VII. FIELD MANAGERS’ AND DISTRICT RANGERS’ REPORTS
- June McMillen said that two bridges washed out in Jarbidge from the recent flooding and the Forest Service is working on it. Both bridges need replacing.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown said they are working on evacuation plans. They have approval from the USF&WS to do what is necessary for the emergency. The Humboldt is growing, overflowing the banks, and is filling up behind Rye Patch Dam. Brown also commented that the community has come together and is now working with one another – shows how far we’ve come in our relationship.
- Helen Hankins asked if anyone has contacted Idaho BLM about the flooding situation and road conditions
- June McMillen said Yes.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked if the Jarbidge north could be transferred to the BLM Elko Field Office.
- Helen Hankins said BLM is open to looking at it. We would have to amend the agreement with Idaho, we will look at that this winter.
- Jeff White recognized the people who joined the meeting and asked for their comments.
- Ralph Sackerson introduced himself as a self-employed engineer in Elko. He asked if other alternatives are being considered by BLM or SNWA such as desalinization or transfer of water from California. The mines in the Carlin Trend ground water draw down were 20,000 gallons per minute over a 3-year period and the SWNA want 60 times that and in perpetuity. Sackerson also discussed geothermal resources in Nevada and expressed concerns about effects on water quality and desertification. He asked that BLM consider long-term water quality issues. He has seen nothing in the public press or mailings about these issues. He would like to see a cost comparison on draw downs.
- Jeff White thanked Mr. Sackerson for his comments, explained the RAC’s role, and encouraged him to get involved. White explained that this morning the RAC heard from Gene Kolkman and discussed the status of the EIS and USGS report and the rights-of-way applied for by the Southern Nevada Water Authority. White encouraged Sackerson to get on the mailing list for the scoping and public interest and explained how to do it.
- Sheri Eklund-Brown explained that the State Engineer is also another person that Mr. Sackerson can contact. If he has any information on the basins, he should send it with his comments.
- Helen Hankins added that the real decision rests with the State Engineer - where the water can go. BLM will be advising the State Engineer of our findings
- Jerry Smith said that the next meeting will be in Battle Mountain on July 14 and 15.
Sheri Eklund-Brown made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Art Gale seconded the motion. In a vote of the members present, all in favor.
2:00 p.m. Meeting Adjourned.
Minutes by Maxine Perrine and Mike Brown
|Last updated: 03-07-2007|
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