BLM works on plan to protect Pine Nuts |

BLM works on plan to protect Pine Nuts

by Jeff Munson

With nearly 350,000 acres of public land in the Pine Nut Mountains, management of the land comes down to its people.

In coming weeks, officials with the Bureau of Land Management and a team of residents, ranchers, academics along with local and state officials will work on a plan to provide more public access to the land, while protecting it.

Work on this lofty effort began Thursday and Friday as the BLM Advisory Council began identifying areas members hope will become a road map to building a Pine Nut Mountain Land Use Plan.

With mounting pressures put on the Pine Nut Mountains, the idea of federal management could cause a few grumbles from anti-government ilk, but officials maintain that in order to keep the land clean and free for future generations, land use policy and enforcement is needed.

“I’m sure there are people here like me who are very frustrated when we see public land being degraded,” said Karen Boeger, a BLM advisory member. “It’s like raising children. There needs to be reasonable parameters of rules and regulations to stop these kinds of abuses.”

Those abuses are apparent to many who use public lands. Couches, refrigerators and garbage are strewn throughout the Pine Nuts. The illegal dumping is an eyesore to those who use the land, said Jacques Etchegoyhen, a Douglas County commissioner and BLM advisory member.

“This is all of our land. We have to take care of it before we permanently destroy it,” Etchegoyhen said.

While it is illegal to dump garbage on public land, people do it anyway. It is up to citizens to report violators, said John Singlaub, the BLM’s Carson City field office manager.

A group of Johnson Lane residents wants the BLM to incorporate a plan they say will keep public land near their homes clean and free from abuse.

The idea is to create recreational use access points for BLM land with special land use designations, said Michael Arett, who devised the plan with nearby residents.

The area the group has identified is located at the borders of Romero Drive at the end of Stephanie Way; east to the Sierra Pacific power line, north to Buckbrush Wash and south to Johnson Lane.

Designations the group proposes would set aside land specifically for off-road vehicle, pedestrian and equestrian use. The BLM could designate areas that are appropriate for certain types of use and restrict certain types of uses not appropriate to the area, Arett said.

“Well thought-out urban interface planning could help meet most of the desires and demands of the public on the BLM and its management of public lands,” Arett told the BLM Advisory Council.

The proposed area would be open for foot, bicycle, and equestrian use. Motorized vehicle use would be restricted to BLM-approved designated roads, he said.

Meanwhile, volunteer groups could be enlisted to clean the area, build trails and revegetate the area, Arett said.

Neighbors of the proposed area are already contributing time to organize and contacts have been made with several area schools and service groups, he said.

“We want to give a place that everyone can use and so that everyone who wants to recreate has a place,” Arett said.

BLM officials like the idea.

“This is the kind of model that I think is needed,” Singlaub said. “We build a model for something and we work toward solutions.”

The issue of future management has become clouded, however, because about 60,000 acres of the land is allotted to the Washoe Tribe and dispersed widely throughout the planning area.

With private property rights associated with the Indian allotments, BLM planners say it will be tricky to work public land policy around Indian land.

“The issue is the preservation of the way of the Washoe and keeping the lands for traditional uses,” Singlaub said. “On the other hand, there is the opinion that these lands can be developed.”

Issues over Indian land have stopped previous attempts to develop a comprehensive land use plan.

The BLM, along with state and local officials, says for a plan to be developed, it needs to work closely with the tribe and private property owners of tribal allotted land.

“This is what is left of their homeland. It is incumbent on us to keep it that way,” Etchegoyhen said. “But I don’t want it to evolve into a small or large city, either.”

Some officials are concerned that some of the 60,000 acres could be developed into subdivisions because it is private. Singlaub said the BLM will work closely with the tribe to limit the amount of “speed bumps” and hurdles that could alter a long-term plan.

“I don’t think anyone wants to do anything unless it’s voluntary …that’s what we want to work at through these meetings,” Singlaub said.

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