By Lukas Eggen Ely Times Staff Writer

The Comins Lake ad hoc committee turned in White Pine County’s grant application to the Federal Lands Access Program. The application presents a long-term plan to restore Comins Lake as a popular fishery and tourist spot for the White Pine County.

“I think we did a very good job,” Jim Garza said. “The key part of that application was getting the buy in from all our legislators to understand that Comins Lake used to produce over $2 million in tax base in 2004. Now, we’re lucky to see $50,000. That’s a big loss in revenue and it means a lot to a lot of people. When we can do something to turn that around and get that base back going again, we’re going to get everyone’s attention.”

The committee worked with representatives from the Nevada Department of Transportation, the Nevada Department of Wildlife as well as with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as various community members who have worked on restoring Comins Lake for years.

The county’s application is for $11.4 million. There is a possible $42 million available for Nevada projects. Garza said the county will find out whether they will receive a grant award in January.

“They extended the deadline to Aug. 15 and I don’t know if that’s because they didn’t get enough projects or applications. I think they’re intent is the application is just a conceptual notification of what you want to do,” Garza said. “It’s a basic concept. If they’re going to look at our project and grant us an award, they’re going to come back and want specifics. Then, we’ll work hard to fine tune everything with our numbers from NDOT and NDOW and meet those deadlines.”

The plan to restore Comins Lake is a long-term one. If the county receives grant money, this will be a project that will benefit the county throughout the length of the project.

“We’ll aggressively continue to market that project to the people we need to,” Garza said. “We’ll have a great project and development for at least five years, so it will bring a new tax base into the market and contractors to help the local businesses continue to fill their needs.”

As the committee now begins the waiting process, Garza said everyone felt positive about the way things came together, especially given the number of agencies involved in preparing the application.

But with a chance to help restore Comins Lake, an issue that people have been working on for more than a decade, it was a chance that they were all ready to help make the project a reality.

“This is a unique grant,” Garza said. “It doesn’t come up every year. We have to capitalize on that now. It’s fortunate that we have everybody willing to participate and done a lot of their homework already to help put the package together. As another committee member said, this is the best opportunity we’ve had for funding in a long time and it’s good that we have our ducks in a row.”

© 2013 The Ely Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.