Nevada

Northeastern Great Basin RAC Meeting


Meeting
Northeastern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council
Meeting Minutes
October 21, 2005
Elko Convention Center, Elko, Nevada

Resource Advisory Council (RAC) Members Present and Category Represented:

Sheri Eklund-Brown (3) Elected Official

Art Gale (1) Grazing Permit

Vince Garcia (3) Native American

Les Hansen (2) Dispersed Recreation

Cyd McMullen (2) Cultural Resources

Dave Tattam (2) Wild Horse and Burro

Hank Vogler (1) Grazing Permit

Jeff White (1) Mining

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Representatives Present:

Mike Brown Public Affairs Officer, Elko Field Office

Helen Hankins Field Office Manager, Elko Field Office

Amy Lueders BLM Associate Nevada State Director

Jo Simpson Chief Communications, Nevada State Office

Jerry Smith Field Manager, Battle Mountain Field Office

Stephanie Trujillo Administrative Assistant, Ely Field Office

Jeff Weeks Assistant Field Manager, Ely Field Office

Ron Wenker BLM Nevada State Director


Other Attendees
June McMillen Public Affairs Officer, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

7:45 a.m. Chairman Vince Garcia welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order. Everyone introduced themselves. Garcia noted there are two new members on the RAC - Cyd McMullen and Kevin Lee (who was not able to be present).

I. REVIEW & APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM PREVIOUS MEETING

Corrections to the July 14/15 Battle Mountain meeting minutes had already been given to Mike Brown. The Minutes distributed for the meeting are correct.

Sheri Eklund-Brown made a motion to approve the corrected minutes. Hank Vogler seconded the motion. All in favor.

II. ELECTION OF OFFICERS

Les Hansen nominated Vince Garcia for RAC Chairman. Hank Vogler seconded the motion and moved that nominations be closed. There were no further nominations. All in favor of Vince Garcia as Chairman.

Vince Garcia nominated Hank Vogler for Vice-Chairman. Art Gale seconded the motion and moved that nominations be closed. There were no further nominations. All in favor of Hank Vogler as Vice-Chairman.

III. ESTABLISH AGENDA & MEETING DATES FOR 2006

- Helen Hankins noted that the Cooperative Rangeland Monitoring proposal was given to the other RACs. BLM would like to have the same policy for whole state; the other RACs have not evaluated it yet. The proposal is being implemented in Elko already with an individual permittee who offered to BLM to start now. No official agreement between all RACs has been made; nothing is preventing any other permittee to do cooperative management. The project is a volunteer program not required for all and is not for all.

Art Gale offered to the RAC to be the pilot project. A vote of the NEBRAC members present were all in favor of Art Gale being the pilot project.

- Dave Tattam commented that in the long run, in 20 years - permittees may have to pay for monitoring. It would be useful now to do the cooperative management. NEGBRAC will proceed for Art Gale and Battle Mountain as the pilot project.

- Helen Hankins will work with other RACs to have a consensus, and work for closure by the end of the year.

- Vince Garcia added that there will still be those individuals who are not interested.

- Jerry Smith said that we need to encourage BLM range specialists and permittees to do monitoring - it has to be an interactive process.

- Hank Vogler added that the Bureau is under-funded and over time, the time element will not be at your disposal.

- Jerry Smith stated that we have to stay involved in monitoring; it will be a combination and interactive process.

- Art Gale was asked if he knew the process of monitoring.

- Art Gale responded that he has some springs and will put in fencing and a pipeline. He understands a little bit of it. He can go out and take pictures and measurement. By dividing up the workload and with more training, he is more comfortable. He has some sites that are winter country and high country; these sites are not in the Nevada book.

- Helen Hankins added that we need to find additional people who are interested. The work will be site specific.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked if there is a program in place like the Gund Ranch that would show the level of ability to substantiate the level of data.

- Jerry Smith said BLM will be working with Art to make sure that data is correct.

- Helen Hankins remarked that one course is offered and others going on could be used. We need to put in place a formal training which could be done in the future as it’s not in the proposal. The proposal was to have a basic training, no certification.

- Art Gale added that maybe we need to look into making this a formal certification process. The same is required for giving shots to livestock.

- Jerry Smith noted that under litigation it is the authorized officer’s agreement of the data.

- Helen Hankins added that even with certification that the person collecting data has some sort of training; it is the authorized officer who is called to the stand. Recommend we develop a certification program for the cooperative management program.

- On December 7, 2005, there will be a Range Management training session in Eureka at the Opera House.

- Jeff White asked if the BLM will take the lead on the certification,

- Jerry Smith said that it needs to come from the author of the project, which are the NEBRAC members.

- Helen Hankins said that Jeff Weeks of the Ely Field Office requests that the RAC be involved with the review of the Ely RMP, provide comments, and stay involved in the Great Basin Restoration Initiative. Under the current land use plan, Ely can do prescribed burning but limited in size. They can proceed with small projects until the RMP is approved.

- Jerry Smith said Battle Mountain has no burning issues. We are working on the Shoshone Range OHV Trail System EA and scoping to follow. We’re also working on final details on the Carrico Lake Allotment. When it is completed we will move forward with the trail system. We will talk to the RAC about some of the land use plan amendments for land tenure; we have proposals from Cortez and Newmont Mines.

- Helen Hankins discussed Travel Management Planning for Spruce Mountain. The appeals issue was resolved and a public meeting/workshop is planned for November 1st and Les Hansen will assist us with the meeting. Elko is publishing a Federal Register Notice limiting vehicles to 850 miles of existing roads and trails. Safety concerns are mill sites and 400 vertical shafts. We’re working with the Division of Mines to map those and prioritize which ones need to be closed. Many are filled with bats and bars will be put on so that bats still have access. We envision four or five meetings over the year and are asking for RAC representation. Completion is targeted for December 2006 and will then start the Travel Management Plan for the Elko Field Office with implementation in 2008.

- Hankins also discussed having a field trip there – there are significant historical resources with mining camps and processing facilities which sort ore. Wildlife habitat concerns will be addressed as well. Oil and gas exploration lease sales will be ongoing if successful increase in exploration.

- Vince Garcia asked if any leases are on [grazing] permitted lands.

- Helen Hankins answered that almost all are, only 2-3 % of district is not under lease.

The protocol depends on the proposal. If drilling a well, the company has file an application for permit to drill. Inspection is done on site. The permittee may be involved if AUMs will be affected.

- Hank Vogler asked about the ramifications if the well is abandoned.

- Helen Hankins answered that it is a state law not BLM.

- Hank Vogler commented that he had one drilled could not get the state to let it be free flow, they plugged it. It could have been a great water resource.

- Vince Garcia asked about the Forest Service Travel Management Plan.

- June McMillen said they have started public input. Areas are considered closed unless designated open and they are identifying routes roads and trails. The reason is to get a handle on pioneering of new routes to prevent damage. This will be a national plan. Maps depict routes and the comment from the public is what they want and do not want. Then the Forest Service will go through the NEPA process. There have been different responses. Ely has multi-use trail groups in place. The Elko office is talking to OHV groups and meeting with permittees. There is a short time frame and the proposal set for 2006.

- Vince Garcia asked if closed trails are going to be rehabbed and closed in Elko to stop pioneering.

- June McMillen said she was not sure exactly what the plan is going to look at.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked if maps have been improved as the previous were aerial and not readable and their status not known. Also, some routes were not marked correctly.

- June McMillen stated they are trying to develop a plan and the draft plan to be out the beginning of 2006.

- Les Hansen requested maps of Spruce Mountain.

- Helen Hankins commented that issues come down to enforcement and education. Some small percent that does not understand and care – and we have to deal with as we can. Most of the public is responsible, and others are addressed with enforcement or penalties. For Spruce Mountain we’re working with OHV groups and NDOW.

- Dave Tattam said that making it wrong (officially) will become the deciding factor of not doing it. We cannot have enforcement without education.

- Helen Hankins added that NDOW is reluctant for signing on Spruce Mountain - the public needs to be informed. Spruce Mountain is not viewed as a destination. Articles have been written about Spruce Mountain. The mode of managing folks is going to change.

- Jeff Weeks said that the Ely Draft RMP is out to public for comment. Comments are due November 28th to BLM. BLM will be compiling comments and can do a presentation for the RAC if needed. For the Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project – the size of projects the Ely Field Office is doing are limited up to 1000 acres. That total will change to 50,000 to 100,000 after RMP is completed. BLM is asking for suggestions on type of treatments and areas, and would like feed back from the RAC.

- Dave Tattam asked when the preferred alternative will be announced.

- Jeff Weeks replied three to four months after closing - around July 2006.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked since the groundwater project is going to the state office, what is the Ely Field Office role.

- Jeff Weeks said the Ely Field Office role will still be there. As the pipeline would go through White Pine County, our concerns and issues will be addressed.

- Amy Lueders added that they are committed to having the Project Manager introduced to all the RACs and those that are concerned for public comments and impacts.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked about the web site and when it will be available.

- Amy Lueders answered that it is not known. Lueders also added that she would like to see Penny visit with Northeastern Great Basin RAC and the Mojave Southern RAC when she has gotten on her feet. The project is in a holding pattern waiting to see what Lincoln County will be doing. In the beginning of 2006, there will be scoping of the southern corner of Lincoln County. The national web site can be used for some information.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked if the field office and state office are looking for analysis because of the grazing management lawsuit in Idaho- is BLM looking at any changes.

- Jerry Smith said yes, we have done a lot. For three or four key decisions on grazing issues, we’re sending out draft EAs. We’re looking at analysis and context, and intensity is impact significant. In the last five months environmental coordination has been incorporated in those decisions. We’re sending out draft EAs (preliminary) to build up the NEPA process.

- Helen Hankins said that the court cases the agency is losing are because they are not done right. Idaho did not follow NEPA process and land use plan – which were fatal flaws. We need to operate within objectives of land use plan. The NEPA analysis was not done correctly. The Judge said that BLM was not doing job. This is a reminder for Nevada that we need to be consistent and follow the land use plan, and cumulative effects need to be looked at.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown added that the fear for ranchers is that they comply and then it is not found satisfactory by agency oversight. That is endangering their livelihood. The issue is- if found to be true then removing livestock is a punishment of the permittee and not BLM. Settlement provides for livestock grazing. Underscores the importance that BLM needs to review the document and make sure that they are correct.

- Jerry Smith commented that they take the NEPA documents serious and have discussions with solicitor and the state leadership team about them. The state leadership team looked at streamlining NEPA efficiency in a technical program review

- Helen Hankins said they are making adjustments when needed. BLM policy does not provide for draft EAs. There are 600-700 EAs per year in Nevada. Elko does 50-60. It will become burdensome if EAs are sent out for comment as a draft document. It is critical that we have a lot of scoping up front.

- Jerry Smith added that the Authorized Officer makes a determination of when the EA is sent out. The 3809 mining EAs plans of operation are sent out for 30 day comment period. It’s required in the regulations to do a 30-day notice combined process. Minor projects may not be sent out.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown commented that the Fire Safe Council State Plan is being brought forward. The California Trail Center is a tour option to see progress. With the urban interface problem, fencing out, and ranchers donated materials - have any other RACs had any success?

- Jerry Smith added that it is a problem in Battle Mountain - they fenced with Kingston to keep livestock out of the area. Fences are put in to protect fire rehabilitation projects and material projects. There are 70-80 subdivisions in Elko a lot of these subdivisions are next to allotments. Gates are being left open and fences are being cut.

- Helen Hankins remarked that BLM is willing to help NACO meet with the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association to discuss the statewide look. The previous position is that it is an open range state.

- Dave Tattam added that the county should step in and be involved.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown said that it is being done on new subdivisions.

- Hank Vogler added that it becomes a rancher’s liability issue—safety of public.

- Vince Garcia stated that it comes down to education again.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown commented that disclosures were given to those in the subdivisions, and that the community should come together for the kids’ sake. Lots of cattle guards are needed, but are not affordable. The county needs to have partners and not every permittee has the willingness. Ultimately it is a state/ county issue, not a BLM solution, but BLM is willing to help. All have some degree of liability and need to work together for solutions.

- Helen Hankins added that the public is not stepping up - some want the government to pay for everything. Hankins also discussed accomplishments - the water quality MOU was signed. The regulation of plugging of wells – required by state rehabilitation of surface managed by BLM if on public land.

- Jerry Smith said that for the issue update on sage grouse implementation – six local groups provided conservation plans. We’re doing a great deal on the ground. Periodic updates will be given.

Meeting dates 2006:

February 16th - Battle Mountain; Land Tenure, sage grouse, Shoshone range OHV

April 27th - Eureka (tentative based on issues from Battle Mountain meeting)

June 15th – Ely; RMP Comments

August 17th & 18th – Wells; Spruce Mountain. Tour & Meeting/CA trail-tentative

Tri-RAC October Reno (tentative)

Standing agenda items: Mining Updates, Cooperative Monitoring, Southern Nevada Water Authority project

- Jeff White asked that the February meeting agenda have an item for land tenure adjustment. Newmont is asking for input from the group pursuant to non-mineral lands the district for mining.

- Jerry Smith discussed the Carrico allotment and permit to Ellison ranching. They have worked out issues for the Shoshone trail.

- Sheri Eklund-Brown asked about the water rights appeal.

- Jerry Smith said that Hank Filipinni does not have the water, Ellison does. AUM’s have been transferred to the land that remains. We cannot jointly file, but can file on the same day. The Battle Mountain office is working this out with the permittee.

Dave Tattam moved the meeting adjourn and the motion was seconded by Les Hansen. 10:00 a.m. Meeting adjourned and the Northeastern Great Basin RAC will convene with the other RACs at 11:00 a.m. to conclude the Tri-RAC meeting.

Flip Chart Notes are attached to these minutes.

Date Approved: Approved by:
Vince Garcia, Chair
February 6, 2006

Minutes by Stephanie Trujillo and Mike Brown

Flip Chart Notes

Northeastern Great Basin - 2006

Meeting dates 2006:

February 16th - Battle Mountain; Land Tenure, sage grouse, Shoshone range OHV

April 27th - Eureka (tentative based on issues from Battle Mountain meeting)

June 15th – Ely; RMP Comments

August 17th & 18th – Wells; Spruce Mountain. Tour & Meeting/CA trail-tentative

Tri-RAC October Reno (tentative)

Standing agenda items: Mining Updates, Cooperative Monitoring, Southern Nevada Water Authority project

 

Issues/Tasks

- Cooperative Monitoring Pilot

- Will refine program and share with other RACs

- Develop certification program for Cooperative Monitoring. UNR, Cooperative Extension, and others to develop certification program.

- Ely Field Office

- RMP

- Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition – Great Basin Restoration Initiative

- Wants RAC advice after the comment period and during the Proposed Alternative Development phase.

- Wants RAC advice for types of large-scale projects for the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition.

- Battle Mountain Field Office

- Shoshone Range OHV Trail System

- Land Use Plan Amendment for land tenure with mines

- Update the RAC on sage-grouse conservation plans implementation

- Elko Field Office

- Wants RAC assistance with Travel Management Planning for Spruce Mountain

- Oil and gas exploration (potential) in Battle Mountain also.

- Fire Safe Council – work collaboratively

- California Trail Center – update and tour

- Fencing in the Checkerboard – subdivisions and green stripping

Please contact the Nevada RAC Coordinator for further information.


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