county commission news

Feb. 6, 2017 meeting

COMMISSIONER UPDATE REPORTS

Commissioner Sharkozy attended the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority meeting by phone. Chairman Goicoechea on Jan. 20 attended the Sage Brush Ecosystem Council where they “did not get important things approved” but at the March 3 meeting they’ll “make another swing at those for the Conservation Credit System” and the Chairman has been talking to Idaho policy makers who are “trying to build something very similar” and “gave him a few pointers.”

On Jan. 27, the chairman participated in the NACO conversation on AB400 and what’s happening there and where we’re going. He spoke to the Society of Range Management over the border in Utah on the impact of wild horse mismanagement impact. Tony Jones also spoke. Jones owns half of a processing plant in Chihuahua Mexico that processes horse 155,000 domestic horses per year at a cost of $55 per horse for people to eat. Goicoechea noted in some countries meat from horses is “a major source of protein” and that presently “the transportation” of that “protein source to other countries” is “stopped” and he asked listeners to “gut check ourselves on where that’s going.” The “beach head team at Interior’s been contacting me so hopefully we’ll get some thing done,” the Chairman said referring to the new Trump appointee’s at the DOI.

RAYMOND HODSON, ROAD DEPARTMENT

Assistant Public Works Director, Raymond Hodson reported the Road Crew had been “busy on snow” and did a run to Fallon to pick up salt & sand. Hodson said the North End Crew had “been piling snow up there” although Crescent Valley had started to “dry out a little bit.”

PUBLIC WORKS

Public Works Director, Ron Damele reported that the airport pump which was “pulled last Saturday,” is “back up and running” and remodeling of the ball park restrooms is underway even as they work around snow. Damele reiterated they’d spent “a lot of time removing snow” and noted the Honor Crew helped haul snow out of parking lots and helped around buildings. Damele noted the carpet cleaner was in town “working his way through Eureka.” Damele related there will be a radiological training awareness class for emergency responders who pull up on accidents where radiological materials are encountered and in April there will be an extrication training in Crescent Valley. In addition, a Red Card refresher is being scheduled and getting “a few of the new folks who haven’t gone through the 30 hour class” trained is being worked out with NDF and Elko County to get that done in Elko.

SENIOR CENTERS

Millie Oram reported, “Everything is good at both centers” with the Eureka Senior Center having served 632 meals for January, an average of 32 per day while the Crescent Valley Center served 540 or 27 per day which is an increase. The two Centers together deposited $2,454.25 for the month.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Jake Tibbitts, Natural Resources Manager, reported he attended the Jan. 24 Eureka Conservation District meeting at which Jim Ithurralde, was voted Chairman and Vicki Buchanan, Vice Chair. On the 25th, Tibbitts attended the Humboldt River Network which will be presenting to the Humboldt River Basin Water Authority on what they are and how they fit in the main framework of the river.

On Jan. 27, Tibbitts attended a meeting put together by the Southern Nevada Water Authority which was by “invite only” and the “county was invited.” Tibbitts related there was a “full room” at the law office with anyone with a “main role of water” there. Tibbitts related that the SNWA has drafted proposed legislation specifically to address water mitigation and 3M plans which they didn’t share. Their main goal was to find where there may be common themes people can move forward on; but they gave no specifics of legislative language. In fact their Bill Draft Request was “being held from Senator Goicoechea,” but they will likely run their proposed language through that. Tibbitts said the SNWA “will run legislation one way or the other” and the Chair of the Nevada Senate Natural Resource Committee has said she will run that for them.”

Tibbitts said it is “important to stay engaged” and there will be “more of these meetings” and throughout the legislative session “to see if anything makes sense for everybody.” Tibbitts said the meeting followed a 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. strict time-frame with some 20 attorneys in the room.

Jan. 28 through Feb. 1, Tibbitts attended and spoke at the National Association of Conservation Districts annual meeting with well over 100 in attendance. Tibbitts said the “gal who worked for the EPA had no idea what was going on” and Christen Bale, Acting BLM Director, was on the panel as well.” Tibbitts said Kristen Bell did a Planning 2.0 presentaiton and “said all the right things as far as work with local governments” and the BLM is saying a handbook is going to be written to clarify how they will work with local governments.

Feb. 7 the Division of Water Resources in Carson City was to be hosting a discussion about their water bills as the Legislative Session began Feb. 6. While Tibbitts couldn’t make it to the meeting with such short notice, Goicoechea was going to try to attend.

Thursday, Feb. 9, Tibbitts planned to go to meet with the BLM on the Carrico Fire Closure and then Feb. 10 he was to go to the State Land Use Advisory Council meeting in Carson City.

Regarding the current litigation related to sage grouse and the federal Land Use Plan Amendment, Tibbitts reported that Judge Du will come out with a ruling within 4 to 6 weeks. Tibbitts noted that two pieces of legislation are being considered at the Federal level, HR527 sponsored by Amodei, and Senate Bill 273 called The Greater Sage Grouse Recovery Act which would allow states that have developed sage grouse plans the opportunity to implement plans and “not live under BLM sage grouse plans” and would “allow states a ten year time frame to show whether their plans work or not” and “if states can’t prove themselves within ten years” they’d be referred back to the BLM. States could defer to federal agencies if they want but it would put the federal plan aside for states that want. The Bill has been referred to committee but hadn’t at reporting been scheduled.

Tibbitts related they sent a lot of comments on grazing closed due to wildfires and he recently sat down with Elko County where most of the fires were in the Elko and Eureka portion of the Elko District. Tibbitts felt they made good progress at the meetings and 7 or 8 decisions came out with changes they agreed to. One change they never came together on and the BLM is not counting certain native perennial grasses and don’t count them as meeting objectives. Tibbitts said that is a concern in areas where they’re not doing seeding and livestock can be cut off just beause Sandburg Blue Grass is not being counted.

Regarding the BLM June 2017 Competitive Oil & Gas Lease Sale Environmental Easement offering, Tibbitts said regarding parcels they BLM does not want to offer for sale, reasons in the EA include protecting the resources, riparian areas, and conflicting land uses with the Diamond Valley playa and almost the entire North end of Eureka County being deferred. They want to defer the David King Spring right along Hwy. Tibbitts said that NRAC did looked over the BLM’s EA and had recommendations. The Diamond Valley playa is deferred because it’s a wetland.

Tibbitts said, “This EA is all about offering parcels for lease so it’s a very general EA” that talks in generality. Once a company picks up lease they can do exploration but not wholesale oil development. Large scale development requires additional permitting. The parcels are just being offered for lease so “meaning companies can go in and look and see if there’s resources.”

Tibbitts said a major concern he included in comments to send to the BLM include the fact that while the EA states the BLM consulted with the Tribes and NDOW they never consulted with the county although 70% of the parcels offered in the lease package are in Eureka County. Tibbitts said they are past the comment deadline and he got it extended so he could get it on the Commission Agenda. Tibbitts remarked that if the BLM had contacted them and spoken they could have gotten past issues remaining to be addressed without writing a comment letter which includes the call for a consistency review; a minor issue under livestock grazing asking them to call rangeland resources the right thing; their having given “a very short shrift to ground water” and asking the BLM to clarify more on groundwater use and the lack of discussion of Diamond Valley as the only critical management area in the State and any company would have no idea it’s a high level required of them. Tibbitts said NRAC wants to ask the BLM not to defer the parcels on the playa for lease and actually wants to see them offered for lease based on the argument the GIS exercise shows the interior of the playa is never wet and are pothole areas and that if you were to go out and choose a place to do oil and gas leasing, the middle of the playa is the best place with no land use conflicts, no forage for wild life, and not of a high resource value, and therefore Tibbitts comments include a request that the BLM “not defer the playa as it’s perfectly suited for lease. So that’s what we are requesting.” Tibbitts said after discussion with NRAC they are asking for lands to be developed and “if ground-water rights are needed to do development that’s a separate process, but if it’s not offered for lease that opportunity will never exist.” Another concern raised in the comment letter is that the EA didn’t acknowledge the Diamond Valley Weed District, and need to have definition of that that is a legal authority on weeds in Diamond Valley being controlled. NRAC did vote to move forward. The concern “was is ‘why would we want to have additional industries come in to put added strain on the ground resource’”, Tibbitts said, and “‘why would we be inviting industry in?’” Tibbitts said, “It wouldn’t be giving them a free pass….” The Commission approved sending the comments letter to the BLM.

He and Goicoechea noted there was a Congressional Review Act hearing scheduled for Feb. 7 to consider resolutions from the Senate and Congress. Heller and Amodei are sponsors of the resolution and Tibbitts asked everyone to work with their Congressional delegates and follow-up with a simple email to the staff of the rest of the delegation telling them how important it is to overturn Planning 2.0. Tibbitts stressed that while many regulations some are looking to overturn have no fallback legislation, if Planning 2.0 gets overturned there are regulations that have been in place for decades. Tibbitts said rather than a “fallback for BLM to operate under,” they can “operate under the same rules they have for many years,” suggesting people “reach out to all elected officials.”

Eureka County Commissioners approved:

Minutes for the January 20, 2017 Commission meeting;

Expenditures of $730,382.34 with a pass-through to the School District of $42,084.09, and payments to: the Nevada Division of Taxation of $135,095; to the Nevada Division of Minerals of $2190; to the State Comptroller of $2849.22 and Yucca Mountain expenditures of $3,700;

Accepting the GASB 45 Retiree Benefit Actuarial Valuation for Eureka County prepared by Bickmore;

Ratifying Notification of Grant Award from Nevada Aging & Disability Services Division for Nutrition Grant #07-000-57-NX-17 in the amount of $1,775 with no match required from Eureka County;

Ratifying support for the letter being sent to Congress asking for repeal of BLM Planning 2.0;

Submitting to the Department of Taxation by Feb. 20 that they are not considering any changes to Eureka County’s tax rates.

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