Two alternatives are being considered by the BLM for a potential trail system.

Submitted photo
Two alternatives are being considered by the BLM for a potential trail system.
Submitted photo

The White Pine County Commission requested the BLM to prepare an environmental assessment analyzing routes for a potential trail system. It was determined that the BLM would consider one new proposed route, being the Silver State Off-Highway Vehicle Trail.

Alternative A is a proposal that includes an action that if approved would connect to the Lincoln County Silver State Trail and generally run in a north-south direction with possible spur routes. This change would not affect the management or use that is already established on existing routes.

This proposal is the preferred alternative, would designate 201 miles of existing routes with connection to the town of Ely as the Silver State Trail (SST). This designated route would have extended recreation opportunities, as well as day-trip loop options. The proposal would extend south to the Lincoln County line, but would not connect to the designated SST in Lincoln County.

This route would not cross any U.S. Highways, no federally managed lands, and would provide navigable access through Cave, Steptoe, and Butte Valleys.

The route would begin in Cave Valley just north of the White Pine/Lincoln County line. It would remain on the Cave Valley road through Cave and South Steptoe Valleys ending at U.S. Highway 6/50/93 just north of Commins Lake. Traveling from Ely there are three options, and the proposal details those more.

Alternative B was initially developed based on the 2004 proposal submitted by the public to the Nevada Congressional Delegation. This route would designate 335 miles of existing routes across White Pine County, extending it south to Lincoln County, but not connecting White Pine and Lincoln as the alternative A would. This route would also cross Forest Service managed lands, and multiple U.S. Highway crossings.

Commissioner Gary Perea said, “We asked the BLM to continue the SST in the process these many months to start the EA process.”

The comment period ended Dec. 24.

The commission had concerns regarding the short time frame of BLM’s comment period.

Jacob Carter, chairman of the public managing advisory committee, spoke before the commission explaining how several years ago it was opposed.

“One major concern that needs to be discussed, is six years later, we’re moving faster in a different way than it was last time, we don’t support the trail,” he said.

Carter explained to the commission their recommendation to ask for an extension of time to the BLM in order to contact. current traditional land users affected by the Silver State trail for their input and concerns before the process begins.

A scenario shared by Carter, “When we start to put signage up, and this is an OHV trail, now we have competition on that road, Las Vegas, Los Angeles wherever that might be, they buy a new side by side, these machines can go up to 80 miles an hour. They come up here because it’s been advertised, and they get into an accident with one of my stock guys. It’s drive at your own risk, but it’s an OHV trail.”

Perea said, “We’re going to be a cooperative agency, it’s just a manner of gathering all this information before decisions are made.”

Commissioner Shane Bybee said, “We’re not reinventing the wheel here, there are several counties who use this trail system. I’ve spoke with different law enforcement agencies and property owners, and I haven’t received any negative feedback.” I’m seeing that the BLM has been working with them very cooperatively. I also agree that this time frame is way too narrow. We need at least an extra 30 days and possibly 60.

Perea said, “My idea was to ask for 90 and expect to get 60 or 30.”

The motion was made and approved to draft a letter to the BLM requesting additional time for public comment.

The BLM has extended the comment period to Feb. 1.