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BLM outlines plan for massive network of fire breaks in Great Basin

ELKO – The Bureau of Land Management presented plans this week for a 10-year program that would install fire breaks and restore rangeland in the vast Great Basin.

The programmatic environmental impact process is expected to lead to on-the-ground projects that will be site-specific but not require individual assessments prior to action. Elko’s meeting Thursday at the High Desert Inn was among several presentations taking place across a six-state area.

Wildlife biologist Kelly Michelsen explained the process and played a video explaining how the installation of fuel breaks in Idaho have helped reduce the size of fires once they break out. For example, a fire last summer near Twin Falls was stopped in its tracks by a fuel break.

“It will protect working landscapes for people that depend on them for their livelihood, and they should protect and enhance the habitat for over 350 wildlife species,” she said.

Tim Theisen of the BLM office in Reno exhibited a map showing large networks of fire breaks and green strips, including many in Elko County.

“As we go through the scoping process and get more comments more areas could be added in,” he said.

Analysis of some areas has already begun.

Dylan Rader of the Elko office said planning has begun on a 2.4 million-acre project in the O’Neil Basin.

“What we’re looking at is a series of roadside fuel breaks, conifer reduction projects in areas where we have P-J (pinyon and juniper) encroachment … along with restoration such as seedling planting in areas that have been impacted by fires over the last 10 or 15 years,” Rader said.

Michelsen said fire protection needs to be balanced with factors such as wildlife habitat fragmentation.

“When you put in a fuel break there’s a potential for habitat fragmentation, so you have to be very clear where we’re going to put these, and we need to be very, very specific in these documents that we’re taking those concerns into account, addressing them and mitigating them so we can continue to keep that wildfire growth down.”

“I think that people are going to notice it,” said Michelsen, who once worked as a wildland firefighter herself. “It’s going to have an effect on everybody, because it already does. Look at the wildland fires, look at the burn starts … everybody is seeing it.”

The assessments should take about a year to complete.

Comments may be submitted until March 1 by email at or by fax at 208-373-3805. Written comments may also be sent via mail to Jonathan Beck, BLM Idaho State Office, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Boise, ID 83709.

Shelter handles more than 2,000 dogs and cats in past year

Elko Animal Shelter continues to strive for “very healthy, adoptable animals” that are spayed or neutered and have all their vaccinations, said the city’s shelter manager, Karen Walther.

The 2017 figures for the shelter show that there were 599 dogs and cats adopted in 2017, down from 633 in 2016. The number of animals returned to owners in 2017 was 582, down from 594 the prior year, while rescue groups took 368 animals in 2017, up from 285 in 2016.

Dogs and cats are kept on hold seven days to “given an owner plenty of time to call and say their animal is missing,” before the adoption process begins, but the animals are often on the adoption waiting list by the time the seven days are up, Walther said.

The shelter had a busy year in 2017, with 2,069 dogs and cats processed, including 1,618 stray animals, 333 surrendered by owners and 105 seized. The seized animals included 81 bite cases. The total processed was up from 1,985 animals coming into the shelter in 2016, 1,554 of them strays and 298 surrendered by owners. There were 111 seized animals in 2016, 75 of them bite cases.

The number taken in varies from the outcome figures because a few animals are dead on arrival.

While many of the dogs and cats find homes, the euthanasia total for 2017 was 455, with 336 of them feral cats. There were 441 animals that were put to sleep in 2016, 305 of them feral cats.

The feral cats aren’t adoptable because they are wild, and the dogs that are put to sleep are usually ones that are bite cases or vicious, according to Walther.

“We have to be very, very cautious about adopting out ones that can be harmful,” she said.

The total cats and dogs spayed or neutered since 2011, the first full year of the Dumke-Weeks Spay/Neuter Clinic, was 4,178 at the end of 2017.

The number spayed or neutered in 2017 totaled 697, including 330 cats and 367 dogs. There were 538 spayed or neutered in 2016, including 229 cats and 309 dogs.

Elko Animal Shelter also puts micro-chips in adopted animals. There were 767 total micro-chipped animals in 2017, including 348 cats and 418 dogs. That compares with 763 micro-chipped in 2016, when 310 cats and 453 dogs were given the chips.

Walther said adoption fees are $85 for dogs and $65 for cats, and that covers spaying or neutering, rabies vaccinations and the micro-chip. Dogs also are given Parvo/distemper and Bordetella vaccinations, and cats receive basic upper respiratory vaccinations. All animals coming into the shelter except feral cats are vaccinated, she said.

“We have a very healthy population of animals because of these practices,” she said.

Walther said that in the earlier days “it was shocking” to have more than 3,000 animal intakes and no rescue groups to help.

The shelter works with two rescue groups in Elko, Mini Paws and Animal House Shelter and Sanctuary. Animals also go to out-of-state rescue groups, including one from Utah, three in the Reno area and one out of Oregon.

“Elko Animal Shelter takes in dogs and cats from all of Elko County, except for dogs from Carlin, as they have a shelter, and dogs and cats from West Wendover, as they also have a shelter,” Walther said.

Figures also show that 731 city dog licenses were issued in 2017, up just one from the 730 issued the prior year. The total county dog licenses in 2017 is 697, up from 693 in 2016.

Elko Animal Shelter’s current budget is $504,655. Revenue includes fees, donations to the shelter, grants and donations to the Local Animal Shelter Support Organization that raises money for the shelter and shelter projects.

LASSO was “created as a nonprofit fundraising arm of the City of Elko Animal Shelter,” said Elko City Manager Curtis Calder, who is president of LASSO. “Through this unique partnership, the Dumke-Weeks Spay/Neuter Clinic became a reality, furthering our mission to eliminate pet overpopulation in our community.”

The shelter has two paid part-time veterinarians who run the clinic and handle quarantine for any suspected rabies cases.

Veterinarian Dr. Jack O. Walther, who died last November, was one of those who made the clinic possible and designed the clinic.

“He loved to give back to the community,” Karen Walther said.

Calder said the city and LASSO are “so grateful of the continued community support, and proud of our volunteers, employees and veterinarians that work so hard to enhance shelter animal welfare.”

The shelter has a volunteer coordinator and 14 volunteers, who also have a Facebook site called Elko Animal Shelter Volunteers.

One LASSO fundraiser is the sale of a collection of 29 Cowboy Poetry Gathering posters from 1985 to 2013. The posters will be sold together.

Another fundraiser is the Kennel Sponsorship Program. Businesses can sponsor a kennel for $400 a year, and they will have signs with their names and logos over the kennels, signs in the shelter hallway and signs for their offices. There are 30 dog kennels and 19 cat kennels.

“It’s been slow getting off the ground, but we’re making progress,” said Walther, who also is on the LASSO board.

Calder said LASSO fundraising also includes the Nevada Big Give, sponsored by United Way.

The shelter accepts money and donations such as toys, treats and blankets.

LASSO’s website is The shelter is located at 2210 Pinion Road and the mailing address is 1751 College Ave. The shelter phone number is 777-7333, and the LASSO contact number is 777-7334.

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Tarkanian takes his support for Trump into Senate race

ELKO — Danny Tarkanian said he takes the attitude of a public servant, the competitiveness of a basketball player and continuous support for President Donald Trump into the race against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

During a meet-and-greet with Northern Nevada residents at The Coffee Mug Feb. 9, the candidate discussed his reasons for running and defined how he differs from his fellow Republican opponent.

“I was the only candidate in Southern Nevada who supported Trump throughout the whole elections. The reason that’s important is because that’s why I’m in this race,” Tarkanian said. “There was a lot of pressure on us to distance ourselves — disavow ourselves — from Trump. I was told, like they were told, ‘Your political career is over. You’re never going to have another chance again.’ ”

Yet he said he supported Trump because the policy of putting America first conformed to his beliefs and how he was raised. He pointed to his mother, a city councilwoman in Las Vegas, for demonstrating how a representative should act.

“She emphasized what was important about being a public servant, and that’s serving the people whether that’s city council’s city people or you’re running for office for the people of this country,” he said. “That’s different than what we see in most politicians who think about doing what’s best for themselves politically. They did what was best for their political careers at the expense of what was best for America and Nevadans.”

If elected, Tarkanian said he would apply “courage to vote” based on his “strong convictions” despite political pressure. The former basketball player and coach said the philosophy is similar to the approach to a game — show team spirit and never give up.

In addition to supporting Trump and his policies, the candidate differentiated himself from Heller on three other points. Tarkanian said he would vote to repeal Obamacare; he would not support granting citizenship to people who come to the country illegally; and he would not vote to give taxpayer money to any organization that performs abortions.

“The differences between myself and Dean Heller are [that] I will stand by and vote the way I promise when I campaign, and Dean Heller has shown time and again that he will flip-flop on issues based upon the constituency he’s trying to get to support him.”

Tarkanian said he recognizes the virtues of hardworking rural residents, and would strive to give them and middleclass Americans a voice in Washington, D.C.

“The people in the rural parts of our country are the fabric and backbone of our country,” Tarkanian said. “They’re what made our country so great. Urban areas are the areas we see in decay. They are having a harder problem upholding some of the great things that made our country … hard work, innovation, creativity and personal responsibility. Those are things that people believe and live by in rural Nevada.”

About 20 people attended the meeting at The Coffee Mug. Outside the restaurant, posters stuck in the dirt read “This is Heller Country.” Inside, residents gathered around a long line of tables, sipping coffee and posing questions on topics including the Affordable Care Act, nation-building, accountability of public officials and agencies, the Tea Party and North Korea.

Mike Katsonis, from West Wendover, attended the gathering. The retired pharmacist said he supports Tarkanian but has no real “axe to grind” with Heller.

“The thing with Danny is, he’s a solid conservative,” Katsonis said. “He really wants to represent the rurals and their concerns. He can also pull votes out of Clark County. … We’ll see how that works out in the primary.”

Tarkanian grew up mostly in Las Vegas, went to the University of Las Vegas and has a law degree from the University of San Diego. He has practiced law in Las Vegas, coached basketball in Fresno, got into real estate, and started a nonprofit organization that teaches children life lessons by playing sports. He has a wife and four children.

Tarkanian has run without success for a handful of public offices in the past, most recently for Congressional District 3 in the 2016 general election.