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Wish list revealed

Amanda Fehd

Recommendations to use more than $200 million gained from public land sales in Southern Nevada for land acquisition and environmental protection in Tahoe will be announced today by the Bureau of Land Management, according to Sen. John Ensign’s office.

The proposal eyes two valuable properties in Lake Tahoe: Incline Lake near Mount Rose and a quarter-mile stretch of shoreline between Incline Village and Crystal Bay, dubbed the Shoreline Preservation Project and owned by developer Dale Denio.

The proposal also asks for $187 million lump sum this year, the remainder of $300 million guaranteed to Tahoe over eight years through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act in 1998. Up to now, the money has been divvied up at $37.5 million a year.

The lump sum would be tapped for long-term projects such as fire prevention.

This is the sixth round of expenditures under the act.

The recommendations are from a working group that reports to an executive panel that in turn reports to Interior Secretary Gail Norton.

Ensign, a U.S. senator from Nevada, said he was excited to seize upon any opportunity to acquire land for public access to Lake Tahoe.

“In Tahoe, beaches are not in the greatest supply,” Ensign told the Tahoe Daily Tribune on Wednesday. “To have somebody willing to sell that is just wonderful. We’re really excited that the money is there for that acquisition.”

The lakeshore land includes 3.54 acres and is valued at around $27 million.

Denio had already developed building plans for the site when the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency stepped in to see if the owner was willing to sell it to the public, according to Terra Firma Associates, a land-use consulting firm in Minden who is facilitating both land transactions.

The Incline Lake property includes 770 acres and is valued around $75 million.

It is completely surrounded by Forest Service land and has been a priority to acquire for several years, according to Rex Norman, spokesman for the Forest Service in Lake Tahoe.

“It’s a donut hole in a watershed system up there,” Norman said.

The property has been owned by the same group since 1939.

“It is heaven,” said Norman Nash, president of the Incline Lake Corp. and grandson of Nevada power broker Norman Biltz. “It is the wettest area in the driest state.”

Despite a dirt road and a few homes, it remains a pristine area, Nash said.

“This is probably the best investment they could do with that money,” said Nash.

Incline Lake would be one of the largest public acquisitions of private land in the basin. What will happen to the buildings on the site is still undetermined.

Remaining money

Sen. Ensign said he wanted to use the lump sum to better plan for long-term projects in the basin, such as fire prevention.

“To get that advance funded will allow us to do the advanced planning,” Ensign said.

“Catastrophic fire is one of the biggest fears in Tahoe,” said Ensign. “Our plan is to work out a total fire reduction plan for the basin.”

Money could go to local fire councils, fire departments, the TRPA and other fire prevention agencies, he said.

The proposal will be available on the BLM’s Web site, http://www.blm.gov. It will go through a public comment period before landing on Norton’s desk, who will decide whether to give it her stamp of approval this fall.

Public comment is being accepted by the BLM through Sept. 28.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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