On March 12, the White Pine County Commission will be discussing an important issue regarding Nevada’s public lands. AB 227, passed during the 2013 Nevada Legislative Session, created a statewide Task Force to study issues surrounding how public lands controlled by the Federal Government would be managed if they are transferred to the State of Nevada. This statewide Task Force is made up of a representative from each of Nevada’s 17 counties, including Commissioner Laurie Carson from White Pine County.

As most Nevadans are aware, our State has the highest percentage of federally managed land in the U.S., at over 80%. The charge of the Task Force is to produce a study that will include an identification of federal lands that could be transferred to Nevada as well as a plan for how those lands would be administered and what the associated costs or revenues would be. The Task Force commissioned a study to answer these questions and has also reached consensus on the following. For any lands asked for in a transfer: multiple uses and valid existing rights should transfer with that land; there will not be a wholesale sale of lands transferred from the federal government to the State of Nevada, but any sale of State lands should be approved by the corresponding county commission to guarantee transparency; and initial sales of transferred lands should include those lying within the railroad corridor (commonly referred to as “checkerboard lands”), and those now designated for disposal by federal agencies.

At January’s Task Force meeting in Carson, a presentation was given by Leo Drozdoff, Director of the State of Nevada’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Mr. Drozdoff summarized the structure in place in Nevada to regulate the different uses that occur on public lands – he stressed that current programs are built to be robust but not duplicative of federal agency efforts and that any expansion of land ownership by the State would require a proportional and possibly significant expansion of State operations, though he does not believe that significant changes to Nevada law would be needed.

The Nevada Land Management Task Force meets monthly to discuss public land issues per AB227. The White Pine County Commission will be taking public comment regarding Nevada’s public lands and encourages any interested parties or members of the public to attend. For more information on the meeting or to see a copy of the agenda please visit White Pine County’s website www.whitepinecounty.net or an additional copy of the Agenda along with supporting material, if any, are on display and available at the front counter of the White Pine County Clerk’s Office at 801 Clark Street, Suite 4, Ely, NV 89301.