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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 at 9:52 PM

County Commission Meeting Recap: BLM Updates, Wild Horses, and Community Support

County Commission Meeting Recap: BLM Updates, Wild Horses, and Community Support
Jamie and Taylor Hyde accept a donation from County Commissioners Scharmann, Heath, and Getto for the Maine Street Spooktacular Halloween event on Oct. 31 from 4-6 p.m. Photo courtesy of Churchill County.

At the last County Commission meeting, the Bureau of Land Management staff from the Stillwater Field Office gave an update on activities affecting Churchill County. Beginning with geothermal and touching on implementing parts of the Navy expansion, wild horses, fiber installation, grazing, and mining projects, the report highlighted the extensive presence of the BLM in Churchill County. 

Ongoing geothermal projects include Diamond Flat, an Ormat project that is located south of Fallon and includes extensive coordination with the Walker River Paiute Tribe; an exploration project in Wabuska; Dixie Meadows that is hung up in discussions with U.S. Fish and Wildlife over the biological assessment; and another potential Ormat project, Coyote Canyon. 

Work on implementing the Fallon Range Training Complex, funded last year through the National Defense Authorization Act, continues with the hiring of select staff to assist with planning and development. The BLM has been meeting with the Bureau of Reclamation to discuss the resolution of the checkerboard areas, the county conveyances, the Nevada Department of Agriculture, and affected grazing permittees. They also continue work on the Sand Canyon Road realignment. 

Staff also reported on the recent Desatoya wild horse gather and the status of the Clan Alpine gather that was appealed by the Wild Horse Education organization. Plans are to begin the gather on November 7, 2023, to bring the Herd Management Area population into the Appropriate Management Level – the point at which wild horse populations are consistent with the land’s capacity to support them and the other mandated uses of those lands. Currently, there are 1,993 horses on the Clan Alpine HMA that is designated for an AML of 512 – 979 horses.

In other business, commissioners approved an application for community support funding from the Fallon Community Theatre for $3,000 to support the Maine Street Spooktacular event on October 31. The event will be free and open to the public. It will allow families to participate in activities and trick-or-treat together at local businesses and with over 20 vendors on Maine Street. The Theatre organization is reviving the tradition that has lagged for the past few years but historically drew a crowd of nearly 4,000 to the downtown area. 

Commissioners also approved an agreement between Social Services and the Nevada Attorney General that provides $82,000 to reduce the impacts of opioids on the community. This funding continues the FASTT program that supports specialty courts with evaluations and case plans and supports treatment to prevent recidivism in drug use cases. 
County Manager Jim Barbee reported that he had received a verbal notice from the Department of Natural Resources Division of Water Resource office that the county will receive $6 million of the $12 million cost for the water plant that will be located south of the golf course. The additional funding will be pursued through the USDA low-interest infrastructure loan program. 

Sheriff Richard Hickox reported that in concert with Search and Rescue and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, he and his staff worked on mapping roads in the Stillwater Refuge to update the passable roads for the hunting season. He also has been working with the BLM to use the fingerprint machine in his office to process the needed background information for the local museum volunteers required to drive to Carson City to do the same process on their machines. “They’re not having it,” he said. “They are requiring the volunteers to drive all the way over there and fight the reimbursement process.” His office also completed a countywide sex offender registration verification over the past week. He said the state has not updated its program and website, so there is a discrepancy between the information and the now-updated county information. 

The Churchill County Commission meets the first Wednesday at 8:15 a.m. and the third Thursday at 1:15 a.m. Agendas are available online at ChurchillCountyNV.gov.