At the urging of Lincoln County Planning Director, Cory Lytle, County Commissioners sent a letter to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, opposing the Garden Valley Withdrawal Act, also known as Senate Bill 196.
The idea, he stated, was to also the send the chairman of the House subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources a copy, as well as Representative Cresent Hardy who sits on that committee, and Senators Reid and Heller.
Commissioner Paul Donohue said the letter primarily outlined the thinking of the Commission “as opposed any of the withdrawals on the land out there because of the effect it will have on land use and grazing rights.”
At the same time, other groups, including a few in Alamo, who held a meeting March 25, are in favor of the proposed withdrawal. Their primary vehicle is called the Basin and Range Conservation Proposal. They describe the valleys “as scenic and unspoiled basin and range that provide habitat for mule deer and Pronghorn antelope and contain ancient Native American trails and rock shelters. The withdrawal area includes the White River Narrows, a district of native rock art.”
According to a newssheet published by the Protect Basin and Range organization, the main idea is to set aside lands in Garden and Coal Valley because it contains “a uniquely American landscape which includes great opportunities to hike, hunt, climb and explore in an area with thousands of archeological sites, critical wildlife habitat, and one of the biggest sculptures any contemporary artist has ever built,” that being Michael Heizer’s “The City.”
Donohue said, “For the ranchers who graze out there, their livelihood is how good that ground looks next year. They wouldn’t want to damage the ground because it would end their business. Grazing is an industry that we have, and we try very hard to keep those industries in our area. Shutting the ranchers out of the use of the land is not right, because the ranchers already take good care of the land.”
He also asked, “If we do away with that industry, how do we replace that economy? How do we fix that? It’s an industry that has been in the hands of some families for over 100 years.”
Donohue added, “Nobody out there is asking for new grazing rights, they have been there a long, long time. And it is already being preserved, because the rancher is not interested in damaging anything that is there. As long as the visitors leave their cows alone, the rancher probably would not care if the hikers, climbers, explorers and archaeologists did come.”
Last September, Reid introduced legislation that would restrict mining and energy exploration over a 1,250-square-mile area of Garden Valley and Coal Valley, and commissioners wanted to inform the Nevada congressional delegation of their opposition to the legislation.