WASHINGTON – The House on Monday approved a package of Northern Nevada land bills that would create about 74,000 acres of federal wilderness while paving the way for development that could bring an estimated 1,000 high-paying jobs to Lyon County.
The House passed the Northern Nevada Land Conservation and Economic Development Act sponsored by Reps. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, and Steven Horsford, D-Nev. The package of seven bills must still be approved by the Senate, where it has the support of Nevada Sens. Harry Reid, a Democrat, and Dean Heller, a Republican.
Amodei said he is grateful the House passed the package but frustrated it took so long. He is worried that the Senate will have little time to act in the few legislative days left this year.
“This is a bipartisan, consensus package, but I’m quite frankly worried about the ability to get anything through the Senate right now,” Amodei said in an interview Monday.
The bill with the biggest impact is the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act, which would allow the city of Yerington to partner with Nevada Copper to buy and develop about 10,000 acres of land owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
The legislation would accelerate development of an open pit mine near an underground mine already under construction. The mine alone would create about 800 jobs that pay about $75,000 a year, Amodei said. The legislation also would allow development of an industrial park and recreation areas.
The bill would also designate about 48,000 acres in Lyon County as the Wovoka Wilderness Area, which would be protected from development. Local officials say that area has cultural significance to Native American tribes.
The wilderness designation was key to getting Democrats to support the Yerington bill. The legislation passed the House in the last Congress without the wilderness provision, but it died in the Senate.
“Yerington desperately needs an economic jolt, and this job-creating legislation will put Nevadans back to work,” Horsford said. “The Yerington Jobs Bill is an example of what we can get done in Washington when we put petty partisan differences aside and come together for the good of our constituents.”
Another bill in the Northern Nevada lands package would give Elko County and the Te-moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada the opportunity to buy about 275 acres of federal land to be used as a motocross, bicycle, off-highway vehicle, or stock car racing area.
The legislation also creates a 26,000-acre Pine Forest Range Wilderness Area in Humboldt County. The bill directs the BLM to exchange federal land surrounding nearby ranches for private parcels within the wilderness area.
The bills passed by the House also would:
• Transfer about 400 acres of BLM land within the Fallon Naval Air Station to the secretary of the Navy to be used to provide housing for Navy families and allow the base to grow.
• Allow the city of Fernley to buy and develop about 9,100 acres of BLM land within the city boundaries.
• Allow the city of Carlin to buy and develop about 1,400 acres of BLM land surrounding the city.
• Transfer the surface rights to about 1,750 acres of BLM land in Virginia City to Storey County to resolve conflicting ownership and title claims in old mining areas.
Contact Erin Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Source: http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/09/15/us-house-passes-northern-nevada-lands-package/15693231/