Interior secretary signs off on Tahoe property acquistion |

Interior secretary signs off on Tahoe property acquistion

U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton this morning announced approval of projects totaling $876 million under round 6 of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act.

Included in the package is the 770-acre Incline Lake site, to be acquired for $75 million.

The Incline Lake expenditure made up the majority of the $187.5 million earmarked for Tahoe basin purchases in the current round of SNPLMA funding.

“Lake Tahoe is a place of tranquil beauty,” said Norton. “The restoration efforts at Lake Tahoe will not only benefit the residents and visitors to Nevada, but will also benefit neighboring California.”

Sen. John Ensign’s office noted Tuesday that they’re shooting for an Aug. 10 close on the Incline Lake property ” one calendar year after the public acquisition of the property was placed “on a fast track” by Ensign.

One project conspicuously absent from Norton’s final approved package was the three-parcel, 3.5-acre Dale Denio property near Crystal Bay.

Local developer Denio, at the behest of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, put his lakefront parcel up for federal acquisition as a part of SNLPMA round 6.

While there had been speculation that the Denio property would not make it into Norton’s final sign-off, official word on Monday from John Ensign that the parcel was not worth protecting for the asking price.

“They felt it was not developable; not worth the $27 million,” Ensign said.

Area agencies have been working since last summer to create a partnership on the Incline Lake parcel.

Incline Village General Improvement District has signed a letter of intent to purchase five acres on the parcel for possible development of a visitor’s center or Nordic ski facility.

The property features several structures that were used as private homes as well as a clubhouse and observatory.

The USDA Forest Service does charge itself with the maintenance of structures on public lands.

“There has from the start been a lot of interest in this property,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman. “We are in discussions, have been making plans with people like the folks at IVGID for an overall plan.

“We’re all key partners together (in regards to) how the property is going to be used and managed.”

Nevada Department of Transportation has also been offered a parcel of the property which abuts Highway 431.

Washoe County has not announced what specific role it will take on helping maintain Incline Lake once acquired, but did note interest in taking “an active supportive role” when plans for the property were first announced.

Under the Southern Nevada Public Management Land Act, profits from the sale of excess Bureau of Land Management property in Clark County are set aside for the public acquisition of sensitive land around Nevada and other specific purposes. With profits soaring from high land values, the Bush administration has proposed to earmark 70 percent to help offset the federal deficit, but Ensign said he secured a verbal commitment from the Bush administration to keep the proposal out of the 2007 budget as part of a compromise.

As long as the Bush administration pushed the plan, Ensign said he threatened to hold up a Bush bill to transfer about 200 acres of federal land around Washington, D.C., to the city at no cost.

” The Associated Press contributed to this story

Fast facts

– Among the 230 projects being approved today, 50 projects will fund Lake Tahoe restoration efforts.

– The Incline Lake property is among the eight land acquisitions approved. This important acquisition will provide vast cultural, natural, resource and recreational values, as well as a key opportunity to achieve better management of public land by consolidating federal ownership secretary Norton’s office said.

– Incline Lake is the source of approximately 25 percent of the watershed area for Third Creek, a significant source of water for Lake Tahoe.

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