Commissioner Sharkozy reported that Aug. 8 he attended a Search and Rescue Meeting; Aug. 9 a Volunteer Fire Department meeting; Aug. 16 a Firewise meeting; and on the 17th a Newmont Mining breakfast. He reported, “Everything is going well with Newmont.” Commissioner Etchegaray attended a DNRPCA meeting; and Chairman
Etchegaray met with Pam Borda of the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority.
The Commissioners discussed requesting an explanation and providing direction regarding why the Recorder’s Office cannot in the future utilize existing staff, to include the elected official, and schedule personnel so that the office will be open to transact business and will comply with NRS 247.050 and NRS 245.040. Apparently, the existing staff has not been able to take leave and leave has been cancelled over the last six months and the Commissioners want to ensure the office is open. The office has been closed half a day on April 7th, 8th and on June 7 as well as in July and August. By statute, the office must be open during regular business days. Chairman Goicoechea noted, “We have obligations to our employees and elected officials have obligations to follow. If employee has gotten approval for leave” that “person is entitled to take leave” while elected officials are not entitled to leave. Goicoechea said, “A person volunteers and signs up and pays $100 for the privilege of being an elected official they’ll fill in that gap” and said it is “not up to the employee” and noted “this county can’t tolerate that” as it “will cause more problems.” The Commisisoners asked for a written explanation, and an explanation of how the Recorder’s office is going to be covered going forward. Goicoechea made clear the County is not going to accept an explanation of needing more staff as the Commission will not hire additional personnel.
Regarding the Sagebrush Ecosystem Program and Nevada Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan, Chairman Goicoechea noted there was a resignation from the Conservation Plan technical team which is down to one staff member and was “not sure what’s going on with that program.” Currently only the agriculture representative is on the technical team and NDOW has to fill the position. The State Lands employee left to be with her husband in So.Cal and Goicoechea was concerned “work might not get done” in terms of conservation credits.
EMS Coordinator, Mike Sullivan reported that since July 20th, Eureka had 27 calls for service and Crescent Valley 4 bringing Eureka to a total of 91 calls year-to-date, 5 above last year; and Crescent Valley to 35 ytd, 2 below last year. Sullivan reported volunteer staffing remains stable with noone having left and noone having come on.
Continuing Education was scheduled for August 29th in Eureka and Aug. 25 in Crescent Valley. On July 2nd, the EMS covered the Sheriff’s Night Out activity and Aug. 3-4 Sullivan taught school bus drivers CPR. On Aug. 6, there was a motor vehicle collision on Hwy. 50 that resulted in fatalities. Sullivan said “despite best efforts the victims succumbed” and he thanked the agencies involved and Kim Todd. On Aug. 11-14, EMS provided standy at the Eureka County Fair with two serious injuries that required air transport. Chairman Goicoechea who is also Nevada State Veterinarian reported a horse in Churchill County tested positive for West Nile Virus and was euthanized at the owner’s discretion. He advised people order insecticides.
Public Works Director, Ron Damele, reported the challenges with the water system in Crescent Valley were dealt with and the system is up and operational. The EPA repository construction is completed and material is being placed in the repository until all temporary stock piles are removed. The engineer is working on a buffer for the cemetary. Damele said the County Fair “went really well” and Fair Board members will come before the Commissioners in September to give a report. The air conditioning compressor in the Opera House went out and is on order and will be installed as soon as it arrives. Fortunately, it is not affecting operations at the Opera House since the system has built-in redundancy. Saturday, Aug. 13 there was a structure fire in Crescent Valley which was a “total loss” structurally. Lightning hit the County computer system on Mt.Tenabo which was expected to be back up by the 19th or 20th.
Clerk/Treasurer Bev Conley reported the County began the month of July with a Fund Balance of $14,486,978, saw revenues of $447,825 and disbursements of $1,102,279, which left an ending General Fund balance of $13,832,524.
Natural Resource Manager, Jake Tibbitts reported that on July 29, he worked with the Nevada Section for Range Managemeent “mostly looking at projects done on the Diamonds and pinon-juniper removal, seeding, and sage grouse grant funds. In attendance were “4 or 5 NDOW people” and BLM staff. Tibbitts noted it was “nice to have everybody out there looking at the same thing.” He was able to demonstrate how to use equipment that goes into sage brush areas and knocks down older “decadent sage brush and releases the herbaceous component” with sage grouse having moved into the area where that work was done.”
Tibbitts said the Planning Commission approved the Water Resource Master Plan, and NRAC also “put their formal vote of support behind that Plan” which Tibbitts noted means they’re “close to getting that buttoned up.”
On Aug. 4 Tibbitts met with Laurence Van Dyke of the Attorney General’s office as well as Wayne Howell, Public Resource Attorney and Laurie Storey, Deputy AG about SLUPAC and SB456. The AG’s office is taking a lead role in developing a legal protocol so that counties can bring forward RS2477 Claims and ironing out confusions over mandates versus discretion in the bill.
On Aug. 5 Tibbitts was in Winnemucca at the Humboldt River Basin Water Authority meeting where he presented on Diamond Valley and said there was interested in the ground water management process.
Tibbitts related that the Pershing County Water Conservation District filed a petition for curtailment on the Humboldt River asking that every basin basin upstream be as a critical management area.
On Aug. 9 , the Groundwater Advisory Management Committee met. On the 10th, Tibbitts and Damele met with McCuin Mining and the BLM at the NDOW office to discuss some sage grouse related issues related to access and travel on county roads.
On the 12th, Tibbitts attended the SLUPAC meeting in Carson City regarding RS2477 roads. Wayne Howell has been tasked by the AG’s office to be lead on the issue. Protocol revisions are being developed with consultation with Utah whose protocols are being studied. The Nevada AG’s office is aware of RS2477 issues but have never litigated. Protocol needs to be developed to build a case file in order to bring consolidated future action.
Tibbitts attended the Legislative Committee on Public Lands meeting in Carson City on Aug. 19.
On the 23rd, the Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee looked at what projects to fund using SRS resources.
Tibbitts related that the USGS completed the Diamond Valley Flow System report which had “interesting findings” and adjusted the perennial yield. Tibbitts hopes the State Engineer adopts the adjusted findings when applying conclusions to declines in flows in springs around the playa.
Tibbitts said of concern are the wishes of NDOW and the BLM to impose travel restrictions during the times of year when sage grouse are breeding and nesting which would impact McCuin Mining since all access to the mine is on county roads to get there. Should the agency impose travel restrictions it would be on county roads. At a meeting in Elko, the Mine brought forward proposed solutions including education and mitigation measures such as speed limits, self imposed travel delivery restrictions and having employees go in and out on shifts only. BLM is not granting rights of way. The project is being looked at by the Sage Brush Ecosystem Council to determine debits and credits and Chairman Goicoechea expressed hope that that the right of way would not have debits applied to it. The project pipeline may require widening of roads and issues being worked out include mitigation measures for wild horses and livestock grazing and other wildlife with McCuin Mining putting together a plan to address those things even though the area is not within a herd management area and the Mine must mitigate for horses in an area where they’re not supposed to be.
Tibbitts noted the Ken Brown’s Gold Rock Pan Resources crew is restarting and reengaging on the gold rock permitting process. With the Draft EIS complete on that, they are looking at that and making sure the proposed action meets the standards for sage grouse. Tibbitts said the Final EIS is in the works, with the BLM setting up a meeting with the cooperating agencies soon including Eureka County so the changes can be addressed “side by side” before the EIS is sent out for public review. Environmental protection measures have been put in place already including travel restrictions and proximity to leks, with noise monitoring limits would trigger other actions if noise exceeded permissible levels.
Regarding the lawsuit related to the BLM’s federal Land Use Plan Amendment, Eureka County’s briefing is complete and they are waiting to know if the judge approves oral arguments.
Tibbitts thanked Barrick Gold for going out of their way to get the County’s comments on the Horse Canyon/Cortez Unified Exploration Project (HCCEUP) Twin Exploration Declines EA and noted comments on the EA were due on Aug.
20 and said he is supportive of the Amendment and asked the BLM to grant approval. Tibbitts reiterated his appreciation for Barrick’s reaching out since the BLM never did. Tibbitts noted the plan needs to clearly describe water use and management.
In approving sending a letter commenting on the Stone Cabin Allotment Water Hauls in Nye County, Tibbitts pointed out that water hauls have been taking place on the JD Allotment for wild horses. Tibbitts spoke to Doug Furtado of the BM BLM “for about an hour.” The BLM last year was hauling water to the Fish Creek Allotment to the edge of the Herd Management Area without the right to do so. Issues having arisen also include special interest groups signing up as official volunteers and going out and doing monitoring and being involved in the water haul.
Placing water at the location leads horses to become acclimated to the area so they can be targetted for baiting and trapping which is not according to guidelines in BLM’s instructional manual. Tibbitts said, “Folks have tried to work with the BLM to get water in good shape” but it is troubling that when it’s for livestock it’s not allowed, but a “new trough can be put in and water hauled to the wild horses.” Tibbitts related that NRAC determined three actions: an overall letter going to the BLM National and State Directors letting them know the over-arching issues relating to wild horses in Eureka County; and secondly to have a conversation with Barrick who’s hauling water to horses and to let them know the County’s related concerns. Tibbitts is concerned the BLM will potentially say since they’ve invested money into replacing troughs that they’ll seek half the water rights. Tibbitts and NRAC also want to elevate the issue to Barrick’s “radar” and ask for a copy of the agreement to determine what it allows done and to determine potential inproprieties.
Regarding recent applications for water in Pine Valley by Barrick to move water from Buckhorn over to the project, Tibbitts looked at the history of the rights which are long-term certificated rights that are in good standing and he recommended not doing anything in protest.
Eureka County Commissioners approved:
Expenditures of $1474011.70 including $93.71 on Yucca Mountain expenses and a $977,925.83 pass-through to the School District;
An application from Vincente Ramirez (APN 007-380-85, 632 Sharrow Circle) for a ¾-inch residential water service in Devil’s Gate General Improvement District #1;
An application from Jason Cooley (APN 007-380-84, 638 Sharrow Circle) for a ¾-inch residential water service in Devil’s Gate General Improvement District #1;
Accepting the resignation of Sondra Sharkozy from the ECEDP Board, effective July 8;
Submitting a response to the BLM on Proposed Decision for Stone Cabin Allotment Water Hauls, which may set precedence for similar actions in Eureka County;
Authorize proceeding with the University Center for Economic Development for Renewable Energy Economic Feasibility Study for Eureka County, and approve $5,000.00 in matching funds from the Conservation District pending approval by the Conservation District. Note: The Economic Development Program Board recommended approval of the study and matching funds at their July 13 meeting;
Authorization to replace the Senior Department Assistant position, which is being vacated due to departmental transfer;
Authorizing Eureka Activities to utilize up to $2,785.00 in marketing funds from the Economic Development Program budget as matching funds for an advertising grant.