Mojave-Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council

Meeting Minutes

Thursday June, 15, 2006

Bristlecone Pine Convention Center

Ely, Nevada

Resource Advisory Council (RAC) members present and category represented:

Stephen Mellington Public at Large (Chair)

Dr. Colleen Beck Archeology/History

Don "Skip" Canfield State Agency Representative

Dr. John E. Hiatt Wildlife

Claire Toomey Permitted Recreation

Kenny Anderson Native American

Gracian Uhalde Ranching/Grazing

Resource Advisory Council members absent:

Douglas "Stretch" Baker Transportation/Right-of-Way

Joni Eastley Elected Official

Mark N. Ioli Mineral Development

Robert Maichle Environment

Billie Young Wild Horse & Burro

John Weisser Dispersed Recreation

Dr. Steve Parker Academic/UNLV

Bureau of Land Management representatives present:

Juan Palma BLM Las Vegas Field Office Manager

Hillerie Patton BLM Las Vegas Field Office PAO

Stephanie Connolly BLM Ely Field Office Acting Manager

Bill Dunn BLM Ely Assistant Field Manager Renewable Resources

Bill Fisher BLM Tonopah Field Station Assistant Field Manger

Karen Eller BLM Tonopah Field Station PAO

Debra Kolkman BLM Nevada State Office RAC Coordinator

Shirley Johnson BLM Ely Rangeland Management Specialist

Troy Grooms BLM Caliente Rangeland Management Specialist

Public attendees:

Bob Wilson University of Reno, Cooperative Extension

Skip Canfield Maria Ryan University of Reno, Cooperative Extension

Lavar Wade Local Rancher

Ken Newby Local Rancher

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 the minutes should contact Hillerie C. Patton, public affairs specialist, at (702) 515-5046.

Chairperson Stephen Mellington called the meeting to order at 8:40 a.m.

8:41 a.m. – Palma suggested members review their packets and Patton reviewed administrative matters

Palma asked visitors to introduce themselves. The visitors were Kim Dow, Management and Program Analyst for the Groundwater Projects Office at the Nevada State Office and Mel Meier, a Presidential Management associate from WO who is on detail to the Groundwater Projects Office until September 30.

8:46 a.m. – Members joined the North East Great Basin RAC for a joint meeting, minutes provided by Stephanie Trujillo of the Ely Field Office

11:35 a.m. –Members recessed for lunch, reconvening at 1:02 p.m.

1:02 p.m. – Members reconvened in individual RACs

1:02 p.m. - Mellington opened the Public Comment period

1:16 p.m. - No public comments received Mellington closed the public comment period .

1:05 p.m. Review and approve the March 24, 2006 minutes.

Members reviewed and approved minutes with minimal changes

Canfield motioned to approve the minutes as amended Uhalde second. All approved

1:08 p.m. - Palma updated RAC on the Recreation RAC

He reviewed the necessity of the recreation subcommittee. The purpose of the recreation subcommittee is to provide guidance to the BLM and/or Forest Service if the agencies chose to increase or implement new fees. The subcommittee would be comprised of selected members from each Nevada RAC. Currently, BLM and the Forest Service are working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Palma will update members on the status of the recreation subcommittee during the Tri-RAC meeting in November. He stated that not all of the details are worked out at this time. Kolkman said the regulations state that the recreation subcommittee would need to meet at least once per year; however, it could meet more. Mellington asked if this subcommittee would only address fees. Kolkman stated that it includes new fees or an increase of fees and they would be announced in the federal registered six months ahead prior to implement changes and it would be discussed during public meetings. Mellington asked about requirements for having subcommittees in place. Palma said the goal was to have member names to the full RAC and BLM by the Tri-RAC meeting. The group would vote at that time. The BLM’s proposal is to create a subcommittee and each RAC makes a proposal as to who will serve on the subcommittee. Mellington suggested asking for people who have an interest in this topic. The subcommittee will put together its recommendations and bring them to the RAC to make a decision. Kolkman stated that the RAC members would decide what other people may serve on the recreation subcommittee.

1:17 p.m. – Field Managers’ Reports

Bill Fisher presented the Battle Mountain/Tonopah Field Manager’s Report (available upon request)

Fisher reviewed the proposed decision on the Magruder allotment. BLM issued a proposed decision to Denver Square Trust and one stipulation of this decision is that one pasture is to be set aside as a forage pasture (in the case that an allotment is burned out somewhere else in the state). The permittee will manage this pasture and there will be a two month time period that another rancher can apply for that pasture, if no one applies; the permittee can put cows out. The preference for this allotment was lost because grazing rights were lost with the original permittee. A letter goes out next week explaining what BLM is doing. Then, BLM will issue a final decision and then if there are any appeals, BLM will deal with them at that time. Hiatt asked if Denver Square Trust bought water rights. Fisher said that yes, they had. Hiatt asked if they are the same outfit that wants to put in a ski resort. Fisher stated that they had mentioned something to that effect, but was not sure. Fisher added that Denver Square Trust bought the Cottontail and will put in a rest stop, truck stop, restaurants, etc there. The EA comment period for the land sale in Fish Lake Valley has closed. As soon as the appraiser signs them BLM can move forward on that issue.

University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) has submitted a Right-of-Way (ROW) application for an underground test to be conducted near the Nevada Test Site, located north of Beatty on Tolicha Peak Road. Several R.O.W. applications for seismic refraction/reflection profiling project have been submitted to the Ely, Las Vegas and Tonopah Offices. The proposed project is used to gather earthquake data. The project consists of drilling a hole approximately 75 feet in depth and filling with explosives. The proposed shot is scheduled to coincide with the Divine Strike project taking place at the Nevada Test Site. Beck asked if the UNLV test was a very large test. Fisher stated that it wouldn’t be incredibly large.

Round Mountain Gold Corporation (RMGC) will be submitting a plan of operations for a combined mine expansion at the Round Mountain mine and new mining operations at Gold Hill. RMGC will probably hire a project manager to work out of the Tonopah Field Station for this project.

This will be the third year for the abandoned mine closure project. Hiatt asked what the three-mile limit meant. Fisher explained that it meant three miles around named town or area.

Fisher pointed out that he included a copy of the Rhyolite notes. He added that it is a number one priority to get a water tank out at Rhyolite for the volunteers. Engineers were out two weeks ago and sighted a possible place to put the water tank. Fisher reminded members that the next RAC meeting will be in Beatty and will include a tour of Rhyolite in the early morning on Friday.

Hiatt asked about any spray operation for tamarisk in Beatty? Fisher stated that there were no plans for one.

Juan Palma presented the Las Vegas Field Manager’s Report (available upon request)

Palma reviewed the land sale in August and December. The December 6 sale will be larger and will be on the Henderson side of city.

Palma reviewed past land sales and explained how much was made and how those funds were used. Hiatt commented on page three and noted that less than 10% of the money has been transferred. He is worried that money is coming in faster than it can be spent. He stated that some proposals didn’t seem to be as fiscally responsible as they could be. He cautioned what public reaction in the rest of country could be to what seems to be frivolous spending. Palma stated this topic has been discussed. Projects are waiting until they are completed until they receive reimbursement. Hiatt stated that it’s still less than half. Mellington asked if sales could be slowed down. Palma stated that counties come forward to him with proposals. Mellington asked if BLM can opt to "hold off" on sales so the incoming money slows down. Palma stated that cadastral surveys are very backed up on these and this could slow the process down. Hiatt showed concern about lack of infrastructure for the parcels that are already sold. Palma stated that it is a joint selection process and if an agency is not ready they should say that they are not ready.

Ivanpah EIS is moving forward. McCarran airport has approximately 40 million people using it and it capacity is about 50-55 mill and will be out of capacity soon. McCarran predicts it will have 80 million users with in the next few years. Hiatt said McCarran won’t have third terminal built before they are out of capacity. Palma gave an update on what is currently being worked on: 15 + EISs, at various stages, 100+ EAs in Las Vegas Field Office (LVFO) and they have 500-700 ROW applications at any given time. LVFO has a team of individuals who do nothing but process R.O.W. for power lines. Palma stated that he is currently looking into entering into partnership with Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) to process R.O.W., etc. Beck asked about the follow up on Cal Baird (Did he leave?). Palma stated that yes he did. Hiatt stated that Baird had cleaned the area up nicely, but it still needs some work, probably from a previous tenant before Baird.

2:08 p.m. – Shirley Johnson, Maria Ryan, and Troy Grooms, presented the Tule Desert Management Issues

Troy Grooms stated that this is a very complicated situation. Currently, the burned area is closed for a period of three years or until objectives are met. Fires can be kept down to a manageable level and a natural forage base can be reintroduced. Using cattle or sheep to intensely graze an area is the proposition he made. NDOW would have to agree to using sheep and this is unlikely because of the possibility of domestic sheep passing viruses on to the Desert Bighorn. NDOW is willing to try this type of cattle grazing on a small scale. He stated that because of the severity of the situation BLM needs to use "out of the box" thinking managing this issue. Lavar Wade stated that he feels BLM is burning purposely to burn ranchers out. He stated that he has seen BLM personnel starting fires. Toomey asked how red brome and cheat grass got out of hand. Maria Ryan answered it was probably due to the conditions getting better for it to expand. Bob Wilson stated that what concerns him most is what is going to replace the red brome. "The ones that will replace red brome will be more difficult to control and much stronger. We need to be thinking out side the box as far as management. The strategy of the plants from Asia is a better strategy than the natives and how do we deal with these non-natives? How many cattle would it take to do this and what do you do with them for the rest of the year" A brief discussion ensued on the topic of what to do with this issue. Ryan commented on what to do with the cows for the rest of the year. She said that the Winnemucca district is grazing on 80 acres with 4000 cows. Looking at fuels reduction, Palma gave an example of fire suppression. Immediately BLM prepares a Wild Fire Situation Analysis (WFSA). This process gives managers several scenarios for fire management. Uhalde thanked the three presenters and asked if this RAC could help facilitate some adaptive management with US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), etc. to help this issue. Palma stated that he would support this recommendation if this RAC would like to draft a letter. Palma asked if this RAC would support the new ideas that have been presented. Bill Dunn stated that there should still be more discussion to this proposal. Hiatt commented that the RAC is in a position to monitor suggestions and try new things outs. He stated that the RAC can support a program of several different solutions to try various different grazing option s and compare these options with the understanding that it all depends on the amount of rainfall. Hiatt added that he recommended a vigorous research program, with flexibility and monitoring. Palma asked for a proposal from the RAC for a more comprehensive strategy. He also suggested that the RAC produce a letter for the short term and add this topic to the next agenda. A brief discussion ensued on the issue of how to approach this topic. Ryan stated that Hiatt’s suggestion of doing long term monitoring and trying different kinds of managing was a good one. Hiatt stated that highly managed grazing has not been closely looked at in the West. Dunn commented that the length of time Palma suggested was a good time frame and that dialog needs to happen within the district before it is brought before the RAC. More long term interest in terms of that research and monitoring. What exactly is going to be answered out there? Mellington stated that this RAC has a real interest in this issue and would like to be kept abreast of this situation. Connolly stated that they will provide an update at the next meeting, but would like to have more discussion before giving a proposal. Mellington suggested creating a subcommittee to deal with this issue. This subcommittee would likely consist of Hiatt, Uhalde, and will be opened to the other RAC members not present. Dunn commented that there are certain objections that need to be considered. Mellington stated that at a minimum, the RAC should have an update in August.

3:50 p.m. – Stephanie Connolly presented the Ely Field Manager’s Report (available upon request)

Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act Round 7 timeline nominations are due to BLM August 10. Palma spoke of round 8 possibly occuring sometime late fall.

3:57 p.m. – Adjourn

Uhalde motioned to adjourn, Toomey second and all approved.

Mellington adjourned the meeting at 3:57 p.m. -

APPROVED BY:  John Hiatt, Co-Chair, Mojave-Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council

- Minutes provided by Karen Eller, BLM Tonopah Field Station public affairs specialist -