Washington, D.C. – During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining legislative hearing, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) testified to the importance of her Douglas County Economic Development and Conservation Act. During the hearing the Senator detailed the legislation’s goals of promoting conservation, improving public lands management and expanding economic development opportunities in Douglas County.
During her testimony, Senator Cortez Masto said that she “introduced this bill to promote conservation, improve public lands management, and expand limited, yet focused economic development opportunities in Douglas County, Nevada. The bill was developed in collaboration with local officials and includes the support of my Nevada colleagues, Senator Jacky Rosen and Congressman Mark Amodei in the House.”
She also stated that her bill, “represents the Nevada-style of legislating our local land management needs – as it is the culmination of a multi-year long effort of people coming together and making compromise. It includes the support from local government, the business community, conservationists, and the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.”
“Given the land ownership in the county and a need to plan for its future, in 2009, Douglas County entered into a comprehensive planning effort with the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, federal agencies, state agencies, local towns and general improvement districts, and more than 90 stakeholder groups to facilitate sustainable economic development and recreation and conservation opportunities,” she continued. “In order to realize the vision of this years-long planning effort, land adjustments with the federal government are needed. My bill will facilitate these local needs…This bill has come a long way since it was initially conceived and first introduced back in 2013. Although some issues may still remain, many complicated issues have been resolved. I look forward to working not only with our federal partners but with my colleagues and all those involved in further considering this truly important piece of legislation.”
Video of the exchange is available here.
Senator Cortez Masto’s legislation was crafted in a collaborative and inclusive process at the local level and involved over 100 stakeholder groups, including conservationists, ranchers, county commissioners, hunting, mining, and recreation interests. Her lands bills follow a successful, bipartisan model that has worked for Nevada’s unique situation as a state with 85 percent of its land area under federal management.
The Douglas County Economic Development and Conservation Act:
This bill will provide federal land under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act for use by the County for flood control management areas, water infrastructure, parks, trails, public recreation enhancement, and other public uses. In addition, the legislation:
- Provides for the conveyance and management of important federally-owned cultural sites for the Washoe Tribe.
- Conveys 2,669 acres to be held in trust for the Washoe Tribe, including within the Dance Hill Management Area.
- The legislation is supported by the Washoe Tribe.
- Enhances economic development opportunities.
- The bill establishes a process for the transfer and sale of 60 acres of federal land through a joint-selection process. This process will facilitate long-term land-use planning for the lands identified for disposal through the BLM’s Resource Management Planning process.
- The proceeds from these land sales will help fund additional conservation efforts, support state education programs and will be eligible for use on projects to protect the Carson River flood plain and surrounding environment.
- Prioritizes Conservation.
- Promotes the management of sage-grouse habitat by designating nearly 12,400-acres of the new Burbank Canyons Wilderness area
- Conveys 67 acres to the State of Nevada to be managed within the Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park.
- The legislation also creates an Open Space Recreation and Management Area near Dance Hill to better manage OHV recreation and public activities.
- The legislation is supported by the Wilderness Society, the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and Friends of Nevada Wilderness.
The bill text can be found here.