Storm Area 51 is going to happen in Lincoln County in 2019 and nothing can be done to stop it this year. But will it happen again in future years?
At the board of county commissioners meeting Sept. 3, several residents of the Pahranagat Valley requested that this event not be permitted to occur every year as has been rumored.
Desma Auclair of Hiko said many people have expressed objections. “We’re stuck with it this year, but we do not want these events every year. We lost Little Ash a few years ago because nobody stood up and said something needed to be done about all the trashy use of it and the BLM closed it, and now we can’t find a way to get it back. I have talked to citizens in Rachel and they don’t want to see this event repeated either.”
Auclair then asked a number of questions of the commissioners and the plans that are being made for the events the weekend of Sept. 19- 21. She inquired about road conditions on the 375 highway both east and west of Rachel, signage for open range warnings for motorists who will not be at all familiar with Lincoln County, traffic control and the big mess likely to be left behind.
Commissioners did not say they could ensure the event would not be repeated annually, but did express that this kind of influx of people is just too much for the resources Lincoln County has available.
As the question was not an agenda item, no action could be taken.
Bevan Lister said, “After this event we will be looking intently at our special use permit requirements and all the planning parts associated with it so that we will be better prepared.” Jared Brackenbury added if the event(s) are held again in 2020, “we’ll be a lot more prepared.”
Commission Chair Varlin Higbee said he expects the crowds will start arriving around Sept. 17. “We did not ask them to come, but when local people volunteered to have these two special events, we jumped on the idea. Gives us a better ability to try to contain what is going on.”
Auclair mentioned the roadways in this part of the county are not in good shape in some areas. “There are no shoulders in many places and not enough signs declaring open range land. I expect there will be more accidents with cattle on the highway.”
Sheriff Kerry Lee said a substation will be set up in the Rachel park, “pretty much walking distance from anywhere in town and another station set up across the highway from the Alien Research Center. We’re bringing in 150 additional deputies and have them spread out among the two events that weekend. Side streets in Rachel will be blocked off. And it is likely over 300 first responders will be there as well, fire and rescue, EMS, etc. Since we don’t know how many will come we will just have to deal with things as they occur.”