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public lands being sold to private interests-Data Availibility?

It has rencently come to my attention that BLM lands are being sold to private interests, through the following article in the Pahrump valley times in Nevada:

 

The plan will be a long-term, road map for decisions by BLM, the largest landholder in the area with 3.1 million acres under management in the Las Vegas District which includes southern Nevada up to near Beatty.

 

"BLM has to be in conformance with its land-use plan any time we make a decision," Bob Ross, field manager of the BLM Las Vegas office, told about 20 people during a public hearing Monday night at the Bob Ruud Community Center.

 

That includes decisions on granting rights-of-way permit for a pipeline or whether to issue resource recreation permits, he said. Any changes down the line require a plan amendment.

 

"Rapid population change affects the BLM's ability to protect the lands," Ross said.

 

Some areas not examined in the 1998 plan, like off-highway vehicle use, will be considered, including where people can and can't drive, Ross said.

 

But he said, "We don't want to plan for things that already work well."

 

The rapid rise in renewable energy is another area to be considered, Ross said, including what are the most appropriate places to put these developments. Some of the renewable energy projects, which are planned in a checkerboard along Highway 95 through Amargosa Valley, are conflicting with routes used for off-road races, he said. (See related article on page A1.)

 

Likewise, the BLM wants to determine the areas most suitable for recreation, Ross said.

 

Communities like Amargosa Valley, which are in areas with a lot of BLM managed lands, have drawn up their own area plans for submission to the BLM, something Ross encourages.

 

"We learn a lot about what local communities want in their own plan," Ross said. "We are required to take into account the plan of local leaders."

 

Indian tribes, counties, other federal agencies and numerous interest groups and organizations are expected to be involved in the process. Darrell Lacy, Nye County director of the Nuclear Waste Repository Office, said the county will be drawing up recommendations for the plan.

 

The plan will consider the areas identified for disposal by the BLM back in 1998 and whether to add any more land, Ross said. There can be an outright sale of land, or public entities could be granted a recreation and public purpose lease, he said.

 

John Backer, from Sandy Valley, said he didn't hear anything in Ross' presentation about plans to sell more public land to private owners.

 

"This is probably the best opportunity for anybody, if they know of lands they know are in public lands, to transfer them to private ownership," Ross replied.

 

While the BLM set up easels manned by various specialists prepared to answer questions, and a court reporter was available to take comments on the resource management plan for the record, some members of the public didn't think the BLM listens to their concerns.

 

Mike Zaman, a member of the Pahrump Valley Four-Wheelers, said, "They already closed a lot of the areas we like without asking. We believe you should leave the old roads that lead to mines and ghost towns. They nonchalantly stuck a sign in the ground that says 'wilderness.'"

 

Priscilla Lane asked Ross: "Why is it we're having such a problem getting you to listen to us when you're having a wild horse roundup?"

 

Ross said the resource management plan will address appropriate management levels for wild horses and burros on public land.

 

"We started out with 2 million horses across this state. We're down to probably 25,000. You folks have had probably 33,000 in the federal pens for some time," Lane said.

 

Diane Davis, with the Dreamchaser Ranch, said she is visiting area schools, encouraging school children to send letters to the president opposing the horse roundups.

 

"They want the horses protected. They want the roundups stopped," Davis said. "They were absolutely appalled. We went to J.G. Johnson and told them what was happening to the horses."

 

Others were just interested in gathering information.

 

John Davis wanted information on Last Chance Park. "I'd like them to assure me that park will be restricted to non-motorized vehicles," he said.

 

Bob Whimpey, the Nye County School District construction manager, was scouting out land in Amargosa Valley for the day when the district will want to build another Amargosa Valley school.

 

Mineral management isn't a big issue in the Las Vegas District, Ross said. But while the BLM will consider everything from solar power projects to wild burros, off-highway vehicle use could be one of the thornier issues to be decided in the resource management plan.

 

"One of our thoughts is to change our designation. Off-highway vehicles will be limited to designated roads and trails," Patrick Putnam, director of the BLM Pahrump field office said. "It gives us a little more management other than a free-for-all in the desert."

 

Ross said there are very long-range plans to move that office to Pahrump, he said.

 

While there is a Feb. 28 deadline to submit comments for the scoping report, Ross said that's for the convenience of the contractor drawing up the document.

 

"We never turn down a good suggestion until the ink is dry and we sign that document," Ross said.

 

The comments will be included in a draft environmental impact statement, after which there will be another series of public meetings, he said.

 

Comments for the resource management plan may be sent to: Las Vegas Field Office, Bureau of Land management, 4701 N. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89130, Attention: Carolyn Ronning, RMP project lead.

 

They can be sent by e-mail to: SNDO_RMP_Revision@blm.gov.

 

Since these are federal public lands- are all citizens allowed access to this information at a web page at either BLM or DOI? I would like to know what lands are being offered for sale-who is purchasing that land-and for how much, for what purpose...and most importantly..Is that land that was setaside for mustang herd ranges?

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