Great Basin Resource Advisory Council
Mojave-Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council
June 19, 2003
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Ely Ranger District Office
Resource Advisory Council members present and category represented:
Frank-Churchill Native American
John E. Hiatt Wildlife
Public at Large (vice-Chair)
Wild Horse & Burro
Advisory Council members absent:
Dr. Colleen Beck Archeology/Historic
John Chicas Permitted
Steve Parker Academic/UNLV
of Land Management representatives present:
BLM Battle Mountain Assistant Field Mgr
BLM Las Vegas Field Office PAO
Ely Field Office PAO
Ely Field Manager
BLM Ely Field Office range lead
BLM Las Vegas Field Office Manager
BLM NSO PAO
BLM Ely Field Office Native American coordinator
Forest Service representatives present:
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Ely District Ranger
District Ranger, Spring Mountains NCA
Representative for Rep. Jim Gibbons
A copy of each attachment is listed in the text
of or at the end of these minutes and is also on file with the
official copy of the minutes in the Las Vegas Field Office of the BLM. Persons desiring to review said minutes should contact
Phillip Guerrero, public affairs specialist, at (702) 498-6088.
A quorum present, Chairperson Steve Mellington called the meeting to
order at 8:20 a.m. -
8:21 a.m. –
Tri-County Wilderness Legislation, BLM Ely Field Office, BLM Ely Field
Manager Gene Kolkman.
provided the RAC with a brief update re Tri-County wilderness
legislation. Kolkman said the process is proceeding at a faster pace
in White Pine County than Lincoln County, which could result in
two separate wilderness bills.
Steve Mellington asked what appearance the final
legislation might have. John
Hiatt said the legislation is currently very “fluid” re the
wilderness portion of the bill.
Kolkman said he anticipates something within the next two
weeks. Hiatt said the
legislation is more of a lands bill than it is a wilderness bill.
Marta Agee asked if the RAC’s comments had been
said the BLM Ely Field Office forwarded the RAC’s comments to
Nevada’s congressional delegation.
Pat Irwin asked what the timeline for a draft would be.
Hiatt said he is not aware of one, but said the draft
legislation should come either before or after August 2003.
Hiatt explained that Nye County dropped out of the
legislation, due to a lack of interest, he said.
Steve Mellington asked if there would be a “public
said his indications were that there would not be.
Marta Agee asked what roll Congressman Jim Gibbons would
play in the legislation. Hiatt said he did not know exactly, but he was sure that
Gibbons would play a role. A
brief discussion ensued. A
brief discussion also ensued re the legislation and water issues.
A pipeline corridor designated by Congress takes out
three-quarters of the complexity of permitting and constructing
pipeline, said Kolkman. Hiatt
explained that Las Vegas Valley Water District and Vidler (citing
recent state legislation) could take water out of a number of
sources. Hiatt said
wilderness is only part of the overall bill, and that water, land
and other issues would also play a major roll.
Mellington asked if the BLM had any input re what land
would be put up for disposal.
Kolkman said lands had been identified and that the parcels
had been forwarded to the congressional delegation.
Mellington noted that the bill is on the fast track.
Kolkman said a one-year timeline would not be sufficient to
adequately write a bill.
9 a.m. – RAC
member questions on Field Managers written updates.
Ely Field Office, BLM Ely Field Manager Gene Kolkman (see attachment
described briefly progress made on the Ely Resource Management
Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Ely RMP/EIS) and some of
the comments received during the recent public scoping process,
e.g., livestock grazing, wild horses and OHV use.
He said some of the comments received were out of scope,
e.g., wilderness and an issue raised by Lincoln County regarding
county roads and maintenance.
Kolkman said that roads are considered generally to be a
county’s, but that the county often lacks a Right of Way (ROW).
Kolkman said he hopes to address the issue somehow.
John Weisser asked if interest groups were the primary
respondents during the public scoping process.
Kolkman said the data was broken down by issue.
He also said that on many issues the BLM Ely Field Office
received comments from both ends of the spectrum.
Robert Maichle said the lack of comments suggests
confidence in the BLM. Marta
Agee added that there is a feeling of frustration as well.
John Hiatt agreed.
said significant progress is being made with the Eastern Nevada
Landscape Coalition regarding the Eastern Nevada Landscape
Restoration Project. He
said recent discussions indicate that local tribes might soon be
able to participate in some projects.
He noted too the Forest Service involvement on some
projects. He said
that ReGAP has so far covered 18 million acres of sampling.
A brief explaination of ReGAP ensued.
energy issues, Kolkman said that Toquop would have the option of
being air-cooled or water-cooled, depending on a decision by the
state water engineer. He
said that an exchange re Pah Rah has been determined to be a good
idea, otherwise the tract will be put out to competitive bid.
He also said that planning protests have been received from
the Western Land Exchange and another group.
Kolkman said that wind energy anemometer placement has been
difficult due to site access.
He said that the BLM Ely Field Office has suggested
locations other than those requested to eliminate concerns.
A brief discussion ensued.
the Lincoln County Land Act (LCLA), Kolkman said that Lincoln
County has requested more time prior to the next phase (sale).
He said the BLM has agreed to delay a sale from this year
to the next. He said
the congressionally mandated deadline remains Oct. 2005.
He said the BLM is still in court on the first phase and is
awaiting a decision.
Fire Hazard Reduction Projects, Kolkman said both the Ely and
Mount Wilson Community Guest Ranch communities remain at risk
despite the scheduled Fire Hazard Reduction Projects, which are
being implemented. A
brief discussion ensued.
wild horses, Kolkman said the Dry Lake Herd Management Area (HMA)
gather is scheduled to occur in July or early August.
He said the HMA’s Appropriate Management Level (AML) is
fewer than 100 head and that currently the HMA has on it between
300-400 head. He said
there are forage and water issues on the HMA.
Ben Patterson asked if anything was planned to remove wild
horses from so-called horse-free areas.
Kolkman said any effort would probably be based on
“triage.” A brief discussion ensued re the possibility of removing
wild horses from horse-free areas, e.g., herding them back into
HMAs. Kolkman said
the issue is difficult, but he feels it best to begin with the
worst-hit areas first, i.e., triage.
Hiatt asked if AML has been set districtwide.
Kolkman said any remaining areas would have AML established
by the end of this fiscal year.
He said AML is not an issue – a lack of money and
permission to gather is the issue.
Billie Young asked if letters of support would help resolve
the issue. A brief
discussion ensued. Kolkman
said moving horses does not help, getting the money to gather
would resolve the issue. A
brief discussion ensued.
provided the council with a brief explanation of planned-for
signage along the McGill Highway regarding OHV use and the need to
remain on existing roads and trails.
Mellington recessed the meeting at 9:30 a.m., reconvening at 10 a.m.
Field Office, BLM Las Vegas Field Manager Mark Morse (see attachment
Morse provided the
council a brief update on recent sales under the Southern Nevada
Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA), noting an increase in difficulty
in putting such sales together. He
said the BLM is attempting to meet local municipalities demands.
John Weisser asked how recent price increases would affect the
value of upcoming parcels. Morse
said he did not know. Steve
Mellington asked how much money has been spent to date.
Gene Kolkman asked how much has been spent in rural Nevada.
Morse said about 25-percent of SNPLMA funding has been expended
in rural Nevada, or outside Clark County.
He said the remainder, or 75-percent, has been expended within
Clark County. Morse said
the first sale in 1999 brought in $10 million.
He said the second sale brought in $16 million.
Subsequent sales have risen to the latest figure of $232
million, said Morse. Hiatt
asked why people pay so much. Morse
said the people who bid have generally already purchased the
inholdings and that they are committed to purchasing the remaining
public lands. John Hiatt
noted that average densities for new housing in Clark County are 10
units per acre and that all planning conducted by Clark County
previously is woefully inadequate.
A brief discussion ensued re adequate availability of public
services and the social implications of rapid growth.
Kolkman asked if Clark County could zone the to-be sold parcels
prior to the sale. Patricia Irwin asked if the parcels were, in fact, zoned
prior to sale. Hiatt said
the parcels were zoned within a range of units per acre and that the
zoning could be changed subsequent to the sale.
A brief discussion ensued.
Jerry Helton (arriving from the Northeast Great Basin Resource
Advisory Council meeting at 10:25 a.m.) requested clarification re the
Robert Hall temporary injunction on land sales.
A brief update was provided.
Marta Agee asked about
Red Rock. Agee said she
was on vacation in the Midwest and was told by a mountain climber that
theft at Red Rock is rampant. Morse
acknowledged that crime is rampant at Red Rock.
He said it appears to be organized crime that breaks into
vehicles and removes one piece of ID and a single credit card from
wallets and/or purses for immediate use.
It’s a cyclic issue that is shared by other NCAs and National
Parks in the western states. Permanent
signage at the entryways was suggested.
Mountain Field Manager’s Report, Assistant Field Mgr. Bill Fisher
(see attachment 3).
Esmerelda County and Nye County townsites, Fisher said that HR367
reduced the 25-year stipulation to just 15 years, allowing the
federal government to turn the townsites over to the individual
county governments. Fisher
said the changes in legislation would resolve the issue of the two
townsites that are currently in trespass on federal property.
He also said that the Nevada legislature approved similar
legislation two years ago. A
brief discussion ensued.
said that work to designate a specific location an Area of
Critical Environmental Concern is still proceeding, despite a lack
said that an emergency gather has been proposed for the Silver
Peak Herd Management Area (HMA).
He said that wild horses within the HMA are in Class Two
condition and that a full force and effect decision was sent out
yesterday. A tour
involving staff from the Washington Office is scheduled soon.
A gather is scheduled for the first week in July.
said the Ponderosa Dairy trespass issue should be resolved soon
with a direct sale of the four parcels of land that are in
trespass. He said all
the pre-work has been completed and that an appraisal is due back
next week. The NORA
will be published and a sale hopefully scheduled in September, he
said. Ben Patterson
asked if direct sales were at appraised value.
Mark Morse said yes. Fisher
said the Ponderosa sale would be both direct and
brief discussion ensued re BLM use of the direct sale process.
a.m. – Range Improvement Projects, Chris Mayer, BLM Ely Field Office
said that Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn has signed a stock water
bill resulting in several fundamental issues for the BLM and
public, i.e., 1) the legislation will cost taxpayers a significant
amount of money to develop water, 2) the legislation states that
federal agencies (BLM) cannot share in water rights, 3)
potentially, the legislation ties property rights to water rights,
4) a Land Use Plan (LUP) with a significant level of National
Environmental Policy (NEPA) analysis would be required for any
water improvements on public lands, which would be extremely
controversial, 5) the legislation allows for water rights to be
filed on significant amounts of snow.
A brief discussion ensued re the BLM’s ability to issue
stock water rights. There
was a concern that livestock permittees could not afford the Land
Use Planning process, which could involve litigation.
Marta Agee provided a brief background on water issues in
western states. Agee
said traditionally the western states owned the water and that the
federal government initiated a fight for the resource when it
attempted to wrestle control from the states.
She said the states would prefer that individuals own water
rights. Gene Kolkman
pointed out that the issue is limited to the State of Nevada.
Ben Patterson said the water rights issue in Nevada is
based primarily on philosophical differences.
He said the real problem is getting water to everyone in a
beneficial manner. Kolkman
said water improvements have been underway in the BLM Ely District
for a long time. Kolkman
said the legislation would prevent new water projects from being
implemented. He also
said the BLM Ely Field Office can no longer allow permittees to
change the “place of use.”
A brief discussion ensued.
Mayer provided the council an update on various projects
throughout the BLM Ely District.
Mayer said most of the projects are located in White Pine
and northern Lincoln counties.
In Lincoln County, riparian exclosures are the primary
emphasis, he said. He
said in White Pine County, pipeline improvements are the main
emphasis. Mayer said
that other projects include the Schellborne fence, a pipeline
involving the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe and Kirkeby Ranch, water
storage tanks and temporary water haul sites for livestock
distribution. He also
said that an exclosure is scheduled for construction south of the
White River Narrows to control livestock grazing along SR 318.
a.m. – Duckwater Tribal Issues/Expansion, Elvis Wall, BLM Ely Field
Office Native American coordinator.
said the BLM Ely Field Office has been working with the Duckwater
Shoshone Tribe since the mid-1970s.
Wall said the BLM Ely Field Office met with the tribe in
December 2002 to develop a strategy that would bring all
interested parties together in a collaborative process, including
members of the general public and various interest groups.
He said a boundary (428,000 acres) was developed that the
tribe felt would be in its best interest.
The request has gone through the scoping process.
The tribal council is today meeting with BLM Ely Field
Office representatives to redefine the requested boundaries, which
have been reduced. The
exact acre amount is being defined as of today.
Once the boundaries are redefined, the tribe will reassess
their request. In the
next step, the BLM Ely Field Office will conduct a second round of
scoping meetings. If
there are no major concerns with the modified request, the BLM Ely
Field Office will proceed with recommendation to the Nevada State
Office (NSO). Marta Agee asked if the proposed expansion would impact
neighboring allotments. Kolkman
said the initial proposal involved several neighbors who could end
up having their allotments governed by the tribe instead of the
BLM. Wall said that
when the expansion proposal process is completed at the field
office level, the final document would be routed through the
Nevada State Office to the Secretary of Interior and sent to the
Bureau of Indian Affairs and Congress, for approval.
If it were to become law, the affected public lands would
be transferred from the BLM to the BIA, to be administered by the
Duckwater Shoshone Tribe. Billie
Young asked if any Herd Management Areas (HMAs) would be impacted. Wall said that the Monte Cristo HMA to the east of the
reservation could be affected, but that any impacts would be
mitigated. Wall also
said it is possible that the tribe would not request any public
lands located within the HMA boundaries.
Bob Maichle asked if the expansion proposal involved only
contiguous lands. Wall
responded that the initial proposal included public lands in Sand
Springs but that the scoping process revealed that the requested
property was not contiguous.
Helton recessed the meeting for lunch at 12 p.m. -
- Helton called the meeting to order at: 1 .m. -
p.m. – U.S. Forest Service Issues, Patricia Irwin, Humboldt-Toiyabe
National Forest Ely District Ranger and Steve Holdsambeck,
District Ranger, Spring Mountains NCA .
said that privatization is rapidly becoming a morale issue at the
Forest Service because people are threatened with a loss of
said she has been notified that some positions nationwide won’t
be refilled. Three of
16-18 of the positions in the Ely district won’t be filled due
to the policy, she said. She
also said that staff is being trained in Reduction in Force.
briefly explained NEPA changes that include non-appealable
categorical exclusions. She
also pointed to changes in appeal regulations, e.g., if a member
of the public does not provide comment during the scoping process
then he or she will find it more difficult to appeal the decision
when it is complete. A
brief discussion ensued.
briefly explained progress on the Duck Creek Basin Travel
Management Plan Request for Comments (see attachment 4).
said the Forest Service has about 32,000 acres of public land in
Nye and Lincoln counties. In
the allotment, there are about 50 estray cattle that the Forest
Service is attempting to deal with, either through a gather or
Forest Service is working with the State Brand Inspectors and
State Attorney General’s office.
She said a first attempt, i.e., gather or impoundment, is
tentatively scheduled in October 2003 with a follow-up scheduled
tentatively in February 2004.
John Hiatt said a BLM gather in the Amargosa Valley, in
Calif., did not succeed. Marta
Agee suggested the Forest Service fund local permittees and allow
them to gather the cattle. Agee
pointed out that unbranded cattle on a permittee’s allotment are
considered to be the permittees.
Irwin said the State Brand Inspectors say differently.
Hiatt said the State Brand Inspectors have been a major
impediment to every estray gather in Nevada fro years. Kolkman said the issue is that the agencies are getting
mixed messages. A
brief discussion ensued. RAC
members suggested that the Forest Service allow the State of
Nevada resolve the impoundment issue by turning the cattle over to
the permittee, who in turn will gather and/or liquidate them.
Holdsambeck said the Forest Service is scheduled this fiscal year
to go to a year-round concession contract at Spring Mountains NCA.
- Holdsambeck said that an ethnographic landscape analysis
is underway at the NCA and the Forest Service is learning that it
should be collaborating with more Native American bands.
the last RAC meeting, Holdsambeck told the RAC about procedures to
stop geocaching inside wilderness boundary.
He said interest in the issue has tripled since the last
petroglyphs have since been discovered throughout the NCA so
geocaching could be prohibited throughout the NCA.
Mellington asked what happened to the RAC’s recommendations
regarding animal control and target shooting inside the NCA.
Holdsambeck said the recommendations have been forwarded.
Holdsambeck said there is some concern about issuing
additional public restrictions inside the NCA.
Young asked about the status of the Wild Horse & Burro
supervisory position in Sparks, Nev.
Holdsambeck said the position has yet to be filled, due to
to a question by Hiatt, Holdsambeck said the Forest Service is
looking at OHV use of the trails within the NCA, formulating
alternatives and writing an Environmental Assessment (EA).
He said the agency expects to have a decision by the end of
2 p.m. –
Sustaining Working Landscapes: Jo Simpson, NSO Communications Chief
(see attachments 5-8).
said the agency has determined that some changes could be made
through policy rather than regulations, which is a longer process.
She said a draft policy would be forwarded to the council
by next Wednesday. Simpson
then provided a brief explanation of the individual concepts
(attachment 5). Simpson
said the Northwest and Northeast Great Basin Resource Advisory
Councils have established a sub-committee to review the draft
policy and provide comments prior to their next regularly
scheduled meetings. She
said the Mojave Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council has
been invited to participate on the sub-committee.
She also said that the councils have been directed to
schedule a meeting specifically for public comment on the draft
policy. She said all
comments received from the councils and public would be forwarded
to the Nevada State Office, which would forward them to the
Washington Office. A
brief discussion ensued.
Helton said that council members attending the annual conference
in Washington, DC, last spring, were provided an agenda regarding
potential grazing regulation modifications just prior to the
meeting. Helton said
it was widely assumed that the changes had already been made.
Instead, the goal was to provide those attending the
conference with something to work with, he said.
Helton blamed the confusion on poor presentation.
clarified further, saying that draft regulations have been
published and public meetings conducted.
However, it has been recommended to make some of the
changes where appropriate through policy because policy changes
are simpler to implement. Simpson
reassured the council that the agency never intended to ignore
Agee, John Hiatt and Ben Patterson volunteered to serve on the
council agreed to address the policy at its next regularly
scheduled meeting in Tonopah, Nev.
The council determined it best to hear the
sub-committee’s report from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and conduct a
public hearing from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 4. The
council would focus on other issues on Friday, Sept. 5.
p.m. – Wild Horse & Burro Issues, BLM Ely Field Manager Gene
explained briefly this year’s gather schedule for wild horses
and burros. He said approximately 2,200 wild horses are scheduled to
be collected via regularly-scheduled gathers. Emergency gathers are not included on the
recently-released schedule, he said.
Agee asked if all the BLM districts in Nevada are as close to
establishing Appropriate Management Level (AML) as Ely is.
Agee was told that Elko and Winnemucca are making progress.
Battle Mountain is experiencing difficulties.
Young said the goal is to establish a statewide AML of 15,000 wild
horses and burros. Young
said figures indicate that roughly 7,000 wild horses and burros
are adopted annually. She
said the public’s desire to adopt might increase if the
state’s AML was maintained at 14,000-15,000 wild horses and
interest might spur an increase in fees that would help to cover
program costs. A
brief discussion re longterm holding benefits/issues ensued.
said holding facilities could provide a short-term solution,
provided that wild horse and burro numbers are brought to AML.
said the BLM Ely District contains 24 Herd Management Areas (HMAs).
He said AML remains to be established on some of the
district’s smaller HMAs. One
or two National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses would
establish AML, he said. Kolkman
suggested two possibilities: 1) Allotments determined to possess
insufficient habitat for wild horses would have the AML
established at zero, and, 2) allotments with sufficient habitat
would be combined and wild horses allowed to remain.
Kolkman described briefly a situation where wild horses and
feral cattle are staking claim to the small riparian areas and
denying the permittee access.
He said zeroing out the wild horses and feral livestock
would be an option, but that the proposal would generate
controversy. He said
a scoping letter was released on Monday, June 16.
A proposal would be completed in Spring 2004, he said.
Kolkman said he would provide the RAC an update at its next
meeting, scheduled in September.
wild horses on the Nellis Air Force Base, Mark Morse said the
protest period for the Nellis Plan ends Monday, June 23, 2003. Morse
said the plan has support from the NWHA.
He said the location was scheduled to be gathered in
December 2002/January 2003. The
gather has not been conducted, he said.
Morse said that foaling season has past.
He said the BLM is hauling water to selected sites and that
the wild horses appear to be in good health.
If a gather can be conducted this fiscal year, the site
could be left with only about 350 wild horses, he said.
Marta Agee said drought conditions mandate that horses be
removed immediately so as to retain good feed in the future.
Morse said a tour of the area is scheduled in late-June.
Morse said the Clark County Act allows SNPLMA money (up to
10% annually) to be used for conservation.
Some money could be used for contraceptives, if the gather
is delayed for a brief time, he said.
Agee asked if the use of contraceptives would be just
another “test case” or if it would be a viable solution in the
fight to stem the growing numbers of wild horses on the Nellis
Range. Billie Young
said contraceptive use is still considered to be research but that
it has progressed significantly in recent years.
concerns over the handling of wild horses in the southern portion
of the district during the drought last summer, Kolkman suggested
that the Mojave Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council
review the BLM’s euthanasia policy.
The council agreed to take up the policy review.
said legislation that would have fenced off the highway through
Red Rock failed, but that Governor Guinn has requested that such a
project proceed. Therefore, the BLM intends to fence off the highway
through Red Rock to protect wild horses and burros. The Nevada Division of Forestry inmate work crews and
the Nevada Department of Transportation are partnering with BLM to
get the area fenced.
p.m. – Public Comment Period –
as a member of the public, Billie Young asked that anonymous cards
be provided the RAC and public ( via a suggestion box).
A brief discussion ensued. Kolkman suggested the RAC have a
presence on the BLM website.
A brief discussion ensued.
Weisser suggested having people mail correspondence to the
BLM Las Vegas Field Office, which would be forwarded.
A brief discussion ensued.
The public comment period closed at 4:20 p.m.
p.m. – Prescribed Fire/Fire Season Outlook, BLM Ely Field Manager
provided a brief history and timeline re the development of the
BLM Ely District Managed Natural and Prescribed Fire Plan that
began in 1999 with the establishment of a Technical Review Team.
He said the plan was completed in 2001.
said the district has determined that an area identified as the
Mt. Grafton Fire Use Zone possesses qualities that would benefit
from managed natural or prescribed fire.
He said the district is already conducting pre-suppression
activities. A communications plan has to be developed, he said.
Hiatt asked if any vegetation would be thinned prior to ignition.
Kolkman said fuels crews are in the field.
Agee asked about the potential for biomass.
Kolkman explained that the Ely and Mount Wilson Community
Guest Ranch Urban Interface projects, which had a potential for
biomass, had been halted by lawsuits but that watershed analyses
are underway as part of the Ely Resource Management Plan and
Environmental Impact Statement (Ely RMP/EIS).
A brief discussion re biomass, the Mt. Grafton Fire Use
Zone and Ely RMP/EIS ensued.
p.m. – Itinerary for RAC meeting scheduled Thursday and Friday,
Sept. 4-5, 2003, in Tonopah, Nev.
p.m. – Grazing Policy
p.m. – Public Meeting
a.m. – Grazing Policy
a.m. – Field Manager Reports
a.m. – Forest Service: Wild Horse & Burro issues
p.m. – Misc., e.g., additional public comment, update re: Duckwater
Shoshone expansion possibilities, BLM Wild Horse & Burro
p.m. – Mark Morse said that a congressional staff bus tour is
scheduled Aug. 27, 2003, in and around Mesquite, Nev.
He invited the RAC members to attend, if possible.
There being no further business, Helton adjourned the meeting at 4:45
Please contact the Nevada RAC Coordinator
for further information.