4H-ERS INVITE COMMISSIONERS TO 4H LIVESTOCK SHOW

Hallee Walker, 4H Program Assistant and 4H’ers came before the Commission to invite all to the 4H Livestock Show and Sale during the Eureka County Fair on Aug. 8 to start at 8 a.m. and the sale on the 9 which starts at 1 p.m. Among other 4Hers who told about the animals they were raising to sell during the Fair, Heather Lacovara, 4H President, told about her pig, ‘Oreo,’ hoping “she makes weight for the fair.” Her brothers, Jim and Michael, also told about their market animals. The last time Heather weighed her pig he weighed 165 pounds and must weigh 190 by sale day. The money made will go towards improving the shelter and saved for next year.  The youth were all confident their animals would weigh enough by fair day. Wilker will be going to the Austin Fair with the Crescent Valley 4Hers to promote the Eureka Fair. 

NATURAL RESOURCE ISSUES: ADDRESSING HOT TOPICS

Jake Tibbitts, Natural Resources Manager, began by saying, “thanks to the candy dishes, I have met my weight for the Fair,” but said he still needs to walk “to build muscle tone.” Tibbitts related that on July 8  he attended the Pinon Juniper Partnership Executive Board meeting and on the 9th an NRAC meeting which went until 10 at night with the BLM from Elko present, and the BM BLM by phone in attendance. On the 14, Tibbitts met with the USGS in Carson City to discuss the ‘Characterization of Water Quality and Ground Water Budgets for the Diamond Valley Flow System’ which indicates changes will show since the early 1960s reports related to Kobeh and Diamond Valleys. Tibbitts said the report will be received in a couple of months, after the USGS peer review process completes. 

Tibbitts attended the Pinon-Juniper Partnership Conference July 15 to 17 in Sparks which focused on utilizing trees while addressing landscape restoration with a lot of projects going on the ground. Tibbitts noted 150,000 acres a year of PJ shifts “across the threshold into a different kind of pinon-juniper” of a lesser integrity and to stay even, 150,000 acres must be treated each year. Industry wants the thick timber stands and the Agencies want restoration on Phase 1 and Phase 2 lands requiring attention.  Tibbitts related that PJ biomass can contribute to the renewable energy mandate NV Energy faces to provide 100 megawatts of renewable energy by the end of 2015.  Tibbitts said the conference was well-attended with over 100 attendees from agencies and industry.

On July 7, Tibbitts received a letter dated July 3 from the BLM with a final decision for the Willow Creek Fire Closure. which is south towards Fish Creek, and where there was a fire about a year ago. The decision lays out the wildfire management and livestock closure decision. The BLM letter talks about how in April they sent out letters for public consultation, coordination and cooperation, and a 15 day comment period. Neither Tibbitts nor any NRAC members received the letter and the BLM acknowledged the letters were not sent or were sent to wrong addresses. There are portions of the Wildfire Decision that NRAC wants to “weigh in on.” Since the Final Decision has been issued there is no comment period. Options are to appeal the Decision which can be done until Aug. 7. Chairman Goicoechea and Tibbitts spoke with BLM BM District Manager, Doug Furtado who acknowledged that something went wrong with the mailing, and that should Eureka County appeal they would win simply by process. Furtado related that he was willing to take the decision off the table; reopen the public comment period; and allow NRAC and Eureka County to get comments in before the final decision.

Tibbitts said the decision is characterized as an emergency stabilization, but said there should have been rehabilitation and seeding taking place last fall, which would already have allowed for a growing season. The decision will likely involve permittees being off the land for 3 years at a minimum. Tibbitts characterized the objectives to be met as open ended phrases which will allow the agency to close the area. The decision calls for 80 percent of potential cover with a list of plants that should be seen out there; and Tibbitts sees the potential for permittees being excluded for 5 to 8 years. In addition, permittees are required to keep livestock from water sources in or near the burn area. With many issues to weigh in on, the Commission voted to ask the BLM to rescind the decision; and to reopen public consultation and take input into account before making a final decision. 

WILD HORSES 

In considering a response to a petition to list wild horses under the Endangered Species Act as a Distinct Population Segment, Tibbitts related the National Wild Horse and Burro Coalition which is made up of wildlife interests such as the Wildlife Society and Public Lands Council and National Association of Conservation Districts, and sportsmen’s groups are taking the lead in responding to the petition. Tibbitts said, “There’s nothing in the Endangered Species Act that allows the public or entities to weigh in on the petition but it’s simply more like a public relations type thing to get information out.” Tibbitts said, “If you read that petition, specifically, is talking about the wild horses and burros as a distinct population segment meaning that they are enough separated from domestic horses enough that they have their own genetics.”

Chairman Goicoechea interjected, “For years we pulled blood on those horses, because I worked a lot of those gathers, and they wanted blood pulled for DNA testing. How do we go about—do we have to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] that so that we know what those tests the BLM ran found?”

District Attorney Beutel said, “You would have to do that unless they wish to volunteer it.”

Tibbitts said his understanding was that a lot of testing was to determine genetic viability rather than distinctness. 

Goicoechea said, “I can easily provide you with the genome from domestic horses. That’s pretty simple to do. If we could get that information out there, the genetic viability; it has to have some specific DNA.”

Tibbitts said, “It’s a pretty silly thing to be pursuing on this because it all comes back to whether wild horses are native are not; and if you read that petition they make all these connections that the horses were that horse. It’s the same argument that you could bring an elephant and turn elephants loose in North America because they have similar genetics to the wooly mammoth. It sounds silly but that’s really the stretch they’re making that because they’re similar DNA to those two-toed horses that inhabited North America before they are native.”

Tibbitts has reached out to Senator Heller and Amodei’s offices because there’s a push being made by Representative Griffith from Virginia who’s been a big proponent on addressing some of the shortfalls of the ESA, and “he’s taking this petition and not really focusing on whether the wild horses are native but is focusing more on the broad issue of what’s broken with the ESA, that any group can petition on a silly petition like this that then pulls the Fish and Wildlife resources because they have a statutory deadline within 90 days to review it and do all this stuff; then if they determine there’s no further study they need, they’ll be appealed.” Tibbitts notes it “takes away tax payer resources, Fish & Wildlife resources. We have all these issues, sage grouse, now the blue butterfly on Mt. Charleston, all these things moving forward and Fish and Wildlife has to change track and address this.”

Griffith, who’s not from the West, “is working with the Wildlife Society to draft a response and will be reaching out for partners to sign on to that.” Tibbitts would like to address the petition by reviewing the response and adding details “specific to us” and asked that the Commission “allow Eureka County to sign on and to take a lead in helping get western support for this thing.” The Commission agreed.

WATER

Then, Tibbitts turned to the US Forest Service proposed direction on Groundwater Resource Management on which comment is due by August 4th. Tibbitts noted that the Forest Service is proposing directives and policy changes when “something this substantive should be rule making.” While the Forest Service is allowing public comment, Tibbitts noted for a directive they don’t really need to. Tibbitts said what the FS is proposing to do is what states are already doing: managing ground water resource, “and we may not agree with how the state manages the resource, but it’s the authority of the state to do it.” Tibbitts said the federal government and the Forest Service want to be doing the State Engineer’s job: determining impacts, and mitigations. He related that the Western Governor’s Association already sent a letter on this citing case law that reiterated the exclusive authority of states in managing groundwater resources.  

Tibbitts said the directive states, “’The Forest Service should apply federal reserve water rights to groundwater as well as surface water to meet federal purposes under the Organic Act and Wild Scenic Rivers and Wilderness Acts.’ So, now they’re talking about asserting Federal Reserve Water Right on ground-water resources in the forest, where before it’s been for primary purpose and minimal need.” Tibbitts said the Directive claims it does not trigger Executive Order 13132 put in place during the Clinton Administration in 1999 that talked about whenever there’s a blurred line between federal and state management, it triggers steps to go through; but here they’re saying it doesn’t apply.

Tibbitts characterized the language as including “motherhood and apple pie sayings” about “weighing impacts to groundwater dependent ecosystems” without defining what those things are and assumes there is a connection between ground and surface water regardless of state law. “It’s just a very slippery slope here.” Tibbitts said the State Engineer’s office is very concerned and weighing in on this themselves. 

Governor Sandoval is the Vice Chair of the Western Governor’s Association and is involved in responding. Goicoechea just received comments from industry on the subject which he will share with Tibbitts who will be drafting the response. The Commission voted to respond.

SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT QUARTERLY REPORT

In a quarterly report, Undersheriff Keith Logan reported 28 bookings, 31 inmates housed for 339 days, with an average of 3.72 inmates per day, an increase of 179 days, or 2 inmates per day above the previous quarter; a slight reduction from last year when the Eureka jail housed Elko County inmates. Logan said the increase was due to several long-term cases involving convictions and pre-sentence investigations before the cases went to district court. Logan also noted the quarterly patrol statistics showed a large increase from the first quarter, commenting that the warmer temperatures brought more vehicles on the highway. Discussing the June animal control report, Logan related that there were puppies delivered to the sheriff’s office in Crescent Valley which were adopted out “almost instantly.”

PUBLIC WORKS

Ron Damele, Public Works Director reported a well in Crescent Valley went down and required a pump replacement, necessitating shutting the water down to the park and school. The problem has been resolved and the well is working fine. Damele said a water leak was discovered at the library in Eureka in the cement slab with work having begun that day. Turning to the Robins Street project, Damele related the water, sewer and storm drains are in and everyone is on the new water system with paving beginning Aug. 11 and expected to take 5 days. The project is currently a week ahead of schedule, although Damele noted they could lose a week with thunder showers. Damele said they’re lucky there hasn’t been a “gully washer” which could make the project schedule go from a week ahead to two weeks behind.

EMS

Mike Sullivan, EMS Coordinator, related that since last report Eureka has had 2 calls for service and Crescent Valley, 3, bringing Eureka’s year-to-date total to 70 (compared to 29 last year); and Crescent Valley to 33 (6 above last year) for a county-wide total of 103 versus 117 last year. Presently, Eureka has 8 advanced EMTS, 8 EMTS, 2 Drivers, and 3 applicants. Sullivan noted former Sheriff Larry Etter is back and running. 3 Eureka EMS volunteers are inactive with 1 on mission, 1 on active duty and 1 on medical leave. The Crescent Valley EMS has 2 Advanced EMTs, 2 EMTs, 2 applicant Drivers and 1 applicant EMT with 1 volunteer on military leave.

EUREKA COUNTY REMAINS IN THE BLACK

Clerk/Treasurer Bev Conley reported the County began June with $52,494127, had $1,670,908 in revenue; $3,124,651 is disbursements to leave an ending fiscal year balance of $51,040,480.

Eureka County Commissioners approved:

Expenditures of $1,174,999.15 which includes Payroll of $319,690.50 and a pass through to the School District of $335,323.28; 

Acting as co-sponsor with White Pine County for the annual NACO Conference scheduled to be held November in Ely, including a $5,000expenditure;

Authorizing Mt. Wheeler Power, Inc., to use approximately eleven miles of County road right-of-way for installation of a main power transmission line. The right-of-way, if approved, will be along a portion of Eureka County Main Road M-103 (US Highway 50/Duckwater Road) in T16N, R53E, Section 12;

One-year Physician Director Agreement for Eureka County emergency services, including setting stipend of $400.00 per month as budgeted.