I had meant to discuss this too, but KT just posted a detailed comment on the awful White Pine County, NV lands bill that did pass. This measure, which was attached to the omnibus bill, designates over 500,000 acres of scenic desert mountains as Wilderness, but outside the Wilderness it is privatization of our public lands and a lot of other awful stuff. Let KT tell it. . . . Ralph Maughan
White Pine Designs: Chopping Up the West, County By County
Harry Reid and John Ensign’s White Pine Rider, with all of its land privatization schemes, was attached to the “Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006”.
This can be found at:
The “White Pine County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act” starts at page 264. It includes:
Rapid sale of 45,000 acres of BLM in White Pine County. (Note: This was preceded by the Reid and Ensign Lincoln County Bill that authorized selling off around 100,000 acres of BLM land to the south in the same Bill that legislated the water pipelines rights-of-way for Las Vegas in both Lincoln and White Pine counties).
The sale of our public lands is then to be used to provide: 10% for County use (fire protection, law enforcement, education, public safety, housing, social service, transportation and planning) –All made more costly through fast-track development of BLM lands sold off, development of an OHV trail that will increase human-caused wild land fires, etc.).
The remainder of the BLM land sale proceeds go to:
- reimbursing BLM for surveying and appraisals on the land to be privatized
- cultural surveys (necessary for the land sales, also to clear the way for the purposeful burning, chopping, chaining, biomassing, etc. under this Bill’s Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition provisions below
- a “study” of routes for the Silver State OHV Trail
- developing and implementing the Silver State OHV Trail
- maybe developing “conservation plans” for “at risk” species (and the risk just got considerably greater for these species as their habitats are fragmented by development and OHV Hells under this Bill)
- maybe a study of non-motorized recreation .
The Bill continues “because of the unique nature of the land designated as wilderness … it is possible to provide for proper management and protection of the wilderness … by means other than a federally reserved water right”. Reid and Ensign must have been chuckling over this provision! Their Lincoln County Bill legislated the Las Vegas aquifer-sucking pipelines and wells that will de-water the same aquifers that underlie the wilderness areas – making the lands unique, indeed!
Silver State OHV Trail: EXTENDS the OHV Trail designated under the Lincoln County Bill with a spur running north (to Elko County and the Spruce Mountain Trail no doubt) and west (to Utah).
Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project: This is Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative on steroids, and applies to both White Pine and Lincoln Counties.
Fearmongering over wildfire concerns (with fire risk increased considerably from development to be spawned by public land privatization, OHV trails, etc.), the Bill unleashes large-scale taxpayer-funded manipulation of public lands.
It enables the Eastern Nevada Landscape Restoration Project, spawned by the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition (ENLC), to “reduce hazardous fuels” and “restore” rangeland and woodland, and perhaps a local “research” facility to study the effects of the public land treatments.
The White Pine Bill authorizes the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to make grants to this private non-profit ENLC (largely livestock and other local interests with token enviro presence). Millions of dollars are going to be handed over to this local group to chop, chain, chip, burn, “masticate”, turn into biomass, and otherwise alter pinyon-juniper and sagebrush habitats across 12 million acres – and kill woody vegetation to benefit of the public lands cattle and sheep industry. This also makes a large function of the BLM and Forest Service irrelevant, and privatizes management of public lands. And of course, with an ENLC middleman, costs will increase, local cronies will get project bids, etc.
The White Pine Bill is also likely to accelerate global warming and desertification (see Un Report!!!!), as lands (including in the new Wilderness areas) are deforested by the ENLC to grow cattle and sheep grass.
A close parallel to this – and quashed even in Idaho in the 1990s – was the Federal Lands Task Force, where National Forest land management would be turned over to state ‘collaborative’ groups – to facilitate logging. A chief spokesman for the Task Force idea was Willam G. (?) Myers III, the cattle industry lobbyist, and thwarted Bush Ninth Circuit nominee.
Now, the Democratic majority leader-to-be in the 110th congress has just bullied this privatization and local control scheme as part of a Rider onto the last act of this Congress.
The Bill also designates 12 “unique” no water rights new Wilderness areas (where ENLC burning and other manipulation is likely to occur) totaling 558,000 acres– in by and large the last threatened, rocky, rugged areas of White Pine County. Other provisions: Military can do whatever it wants over Wilderness. WSA Releases: Bill releases BLM WSAs (no maps available on-line that I have seen). Wildlife: NDOW can do pretty much whatever it wants in wilderness. Other BLM land conveyances and privatization, and a direct conveyance of land to White Pine County for sale, including for “non-residential development”.
As a biologist, I’m outraged at the loss and fragmentation of public lands under this latest quid pro quo deal.
Will Harry Reid as majority leader end up legislating more OHV Trails, privatizing BLM lands so coal-fired power plants can be built, turning tax dollars over to local cronies, and selling off public land under cover of Wilderness? A national spotlight needs to shine very brightly on doings in Nevada right now, so that the public can be better informed about just how “green” the Democratic leaders may be.
Juniper and pinyon pine burn on Cherry Creek Mountain, White Pine County Nevada. We will see a lot more of this now that the bill has passed. What is wrong with this? The area is being cleared for livestock use. They think it will grow grass and claim it will restore the landscape. Look at its fertility. It coarse sand. It will grow a bit of grass–cheatgrass
Note that pine nuts come from pinyon pine, and they are probably more valuable than the meager amount of livestock that can be raised in the area. Meanwhile the United States imports pine nuts from China.