Washoe County Economic Development and Conservation Act
Draft Language House Report No. 101-405
Washoe County and its citizens are feeling the growing pains associated with the economic growth that has occurred in Washoe County. The steady growth that we have seen is impacting available housing, and infrastructure needs are projected to continue with a potential population increase of 100,000 residents by 2030. The benefit of the bill is to help support and give options for sustained growth while also maintaining the lifestyle that draws and keeps so many people in our beautiful region. The Washoe County Economic Development and Conservation Act (Lands Bill) offers solutions by authorizing:
- land conveyances for public purposes;
- land sales and land exchanges within the disposal boundary for potential development
- the designation of areas as Wilderness Areas
- the designation of areas as National Conservation Areas
- the designation release of Wilderness Study Areas
Benefits to Washoe County:
Eighty-three percent (83%) of Washoe County is owned by the Federal Government. This slows our ability to grow and does not allow local government to determine where land is sold and limits our role in where developments occur. This Lands Bill gives the local governments a say in where land is sold and developed to ensure it is sustainable and supportable growth.
Land conveyances and sales proposed in this Bill will bring increased economic development to the County, by:
1. Directing where growth will occur in our region.
- Increased private ownership will lead to:
- increased economic development in the County,
- encouraging growth to occur where it can be supported
- sales will occur in a more reasonable amount of time
2. Sale proceeds for the lands within the disposal boundary are:
- 10% of land sale proceeds will be paid directly to the County.
- 5% of land sale proceeds will be paid to the State of Nevada for education.
- 85% of land sale proceeds will stay in Nevada BLM as opposed to being sent to Washington DC which will be used for:
- land exchange facilitation,
- drought mitigation,
- wildfire prevention,
- sage grouse restoration and
- other conservation efforts now and in the future
3. Authorizing conveyance of other lands identified by the legislation to the following bodies;
- Washoe County
- City of Reno/ Reno City Land Trust
- City of Sparks
- Incline Village General Improvement District
- Nevada Department of Wildlife
- Regional Transportation Commission
- Sun Valley General Improvement District
- Truckee Meadows Water Authority
- Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility
- Truckee River Flood Management Authority
- University of Nevada, Reno
- Washoe County School District
Washoe County had determined that there was a strong desire from many to address Wilderness Study Areas, these designation were made to be temporary. They were created with the intent that they would be reviewed to determine which meet the requirements to become wilderness and which did not. However it takes an act of Congress to change those designations, so Washoe County looked at each individual wilderness study area and those requested to be wilderness to ensure that each area was qualified, appropriate, responsible and manageable.
There was a strong desire to ensure that any areas nominated to become wilderness met the requirements laid out in the 1964 Wilderness Act and as used by BLM. If an area did not meet the requirements, it should not be managed as Wilderness.
The area needed to be appropriate; this means that the areas were looked at individually to see if the designation being proposed was best for the area and the management of the land today and in the future. For this we looked at things like sage grouse habitat, resistant and resilience qualities as well as fire management or fire rehabilitation that is occurring or needs to occur due to recent fires.
Is the designation responsible, are we ensuring people who make a living on these lands can continue to do so? Those who use these lands for recreation, will they still be able to do so? Use and access to our public lands is very important for the management of the environment to the quality of life that many in our region love and that brings visitors here.
Lastly manageable, there was much time taken on this point, it defeats the purpose of any designation if the boundaries or language make it so that the land cannot be managed as outlined. For this we worked with those who are familiar with the area, those impacted in the area, the resource agencies and those who manage the area for the different purposes. This was to ensure that the boundaries as well as the language can be managed and used for the purposes intended in the legislation.
Washoe County is confident that the areas recommended in this legislation are all qualified, appropriate, responsible, and manageable.
- The legislation will designate 176,488 acres of Wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act.
- The legislation will designate 83,396 acres to a National Conservation Area
- The legislation will also release 361,639 acres of BLM wilderness study areas.
- Wilderness Study Areas are permanent until Congress acts through legislation (in this case, through the Lands Bill).
- Wilderness study areas can be much more restrictive than designated Wilderness.
- Under the Bill, grazing within designated Wilderness Areas is protected under the law.
- Grazing is not protected under wilderness study status, but through the legislation is protected in wilderness and national conservation areas
- Hunting and other recreational activities are allowed to continue
- Motorized vehicle use is only permitted on marked roads in Wilderness Areas
Please share thoughts about the proposed bill at Open Washoe
For any questions please reach out to Jamie Rodriguez our Government Affairs staff by phone at (775) 328-2010 or by email at JARodriguez@washoecounty.us