By: KayLynn Roberts-McMurray

The Ely Conservation Camp closed its doors last month during the week of July 17, 2020.  The Nevada Department of Corrections Public Information Officer, Scott Kelley cited the closure addressed staffing deficiencies at the Ely State Maximum Security Prison.

Although is is unclear not he number of staff that were employed at the Conservation Camp, Kelley that no staff resigned and none were laid off, but instead reassigned to the Ely State Prison.

Approximately 120 offenders were moved from the camp, split between the Pioche Conservation Camp and Wells Conservation Camp in Nevada.
The Ely Conservation Camp was constructed in 1984. The camp was located approximately seventeen miles south of Ely on Horse and Cattle Camp Road. The camp could house up to 150 minimum security inmates. 
The Camp provided several programs for inmates that include vocational training, educational opportunities and treatment services.  Inmates were given the opportunity to earn a G.E.D. or high school diploma. The Nevada Department of Forestry helped  train the inmates in a variety of skills, including: fire fighting, mechanics, fence rebuilding, concrete work, and building remodeling. The education department ensures that all inmates attend a Safe Serve class for culinary work prior to working in or around the kitchen. 
Inmates at the camp provided substantial assistance to  the community.  Before special events, inmates would assist with clean up projects in Ely, hung Christmas lights on Aultman during the holidays,  fought fires, and assisted with multiple projects across the county.  
The task that will be missed the most is during the winter when the inmates would shovel snow from walkways for Senior Citizens in White Pine who could not do it for themselves.  
“Addressing staffing deficiencies at NDOC facilities is of paramount importance. Our agency’s ethos is to serve as one team and never leave another in harm’s way.  Increasing ESP staff will ensure a more secure environment there. ” Kelley said.
Local resident Elaine Cazier was one of many seniors who would have their walkways shoveled during the winter months.   “I really think that the loss of the inmates and things that they did for people that went unnoticed is a shame.  There are a lot of us single women around town that don’t have anyone to do it for us and they were there, and it was several walks they shoveled.  I don’t know whose idea it was but I hate to see them go, they were always polite and went about their work.”  
There is no definitive date of when the camp will reopen.