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Eureka County wants to attend USFS meeting

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ELKO — Eureka County wants to attend a meeting Elko County is arranging with Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor Jeanne Higgins on the Travel Management Plan for forest land in Elko County.

“Eureka County found out we were meeting with the Forest Service and wants to be involved in the meeting,” Elko County Commission Chairman Demar Dahl said Friday. “It’s really important to us in Elko County to get the perspective of a county that has already been through this.”

The Travel Management Plan for forests in Eureka, Lander and Nye counties has been in effect since 2009.

Eureka County is unhappy over the plan, however, especially over promises that the Forest Service will do yearly reviews, according to a letter from Jake Tibbitts, Eureka County natural resources manager.

“Our participation in the meeting would help to highlight the issues common to the USFS Travel Management process across the USFS ranger districts and county lines,” he wrote to Dahl.

Elko County and Higgins are still working out a date for a meeting on the Travel Management Plan yet to go into effect for Elko County. Higgins agreed at the Oct. 5 Elko County Commissioners meeting to arrange a meeting to go over the plan.

She also agreed Ruby Mountain Acting District Ranger Troy Phelps and Jarbidge and Ruby Mountains District Ranger Gar Abbas would hold off on signing the record of decision if the meeting can be arranged within a relatively short time.

Abbas is on temporary assignment to the Las Vegas area but Higgins said last week he still planned to sign the decision.

Dahl said he expects commissioners to talk about Eureka County’s request to participate in the meeting and about an agenda when it meets at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The meeting will be at the Nannini Administration Building in Elko.

He also said he would notify Higgins about Eureka County’s request, and he said Lander and Nye counties also may be interested.

Tibbitts stated in the Oct. 13 letter to Dahl that Eureka County is concerned about statements Higgins made at the Elko County meeting indicating that the Forest Service map developed with the plan will be updated yearly. He called such a promise a pacifier.

Eureka County appealed the record of decision for the Austin and Tonopah ranger districts, and Tibbitts includes in the letter the assurances the county received after the appeal that there would be plan reviews and road changes, and he attached the appeal itself “as this may highlight the very similar issues that Elko County is going through, and the outstanding issues Eureka County still has.”

Eureka County’s appeal included concerns over blanket closures of roads and that the bulk of the county’s comments weren’t “properly and adequately contemplated, incorporated, or addressed,” as well as protests against changing road designations to trails and over omission of a number of dispersed campsites.

Elko County has voiced concerns about the plan over road closures, marking roads open but not marking closed roads, game retrieval restrictions and camping.

 

Fire summit?

Elko County Commis-sioners also plan to talk at the Wednesday meeting about whether to hold a summit to talk about wildfires, their size, frequency and management, according to the agenda.

Dahl said he didn’t believe there would be much discussion, but commissioners will decide whether they want to put together such a summit to look at fires and “why there have been a number of large fires in the past 10 to 15 years.”

The most recent was the Dunphy Complex Fire that blackened more than 200,000 acres in northern Elko County late last month and threatened the towns of Midas and Tuscarora.

The agenda states there were reports while the fire was burning that portions of the area in flames had burned four times in the past 18 years.

Also on the agenda for Wednesday, commissioners will:

• Hear a presentation and update on Elko County Economic Diversification Authority activities.

• Consider a request for a liquor license for Larry Elias Goicoechea for the Lone Mountain Station, 32 miles north of Elko.

• Consider a request from the Elko County Natural Resources Management Advisory Commission to look at comments to the Forest Service regarding maintenance, improvements and enhancements of water developments on the forest to maintain healthy landscapes and multiple uses of the land. 

• Hold a public hearing at 3 p.m. for public input on projects to submit to the Community Development Block Grant Program.

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