The acting manager of Nevada’s Basin and Range National Monument, Linda Price, gave an update on the planning process for the controversial new monument. She spoke on how the process will go and her goal of high public involvement during this week’s regular Lincoln County Board of Commissioners meeting.
Price is on temporary assignment to the Monument from the Bureau of Land Management Salmon, Idaho field.
“I know that when these monuments are designated in the ways that they are with the Antiquities Act, it leads to lot of uncertainty in the staff, as well as in the local communities,” Price said. She added she has had some experience with these matters, having helped oversee the development and resource management plan of the Cliffs National Monument in Vermillion, Arizona in 2000.
“One of my main objectives here is to help people feel a little bit better about the monument,” she said.
She said she believes the proclamation of the monument is one of the better ones. “I have studied many of them, and this is one of the clearest proclamations written, and I think that will go a long way in helping people feel more comfortable with it.”
In time, she said, the plan is to eventually have a full-time rangeland management specialist to handle grazing administration, as well as a halftime cultural resource specialist and half-time outdoor recreation planner.
But for now, the best thing Price feels about the proclamation is its desire to have “the maximum amount of public involvement possible.”
Price elaborated on how the BLM is interpreting maximum amount of public involvement. “There are already a lot of collaborative planning organizations in place in Lincoln and Nye County,” she said. “We want to fold their ideas into the plan for the national monument and we want to start by having stakeholder meetings and public meetings to bring all the various groups together and get their ideas.”
The groups mentioned included county commissions, the White Pine County Coordinated Steering Committee, Northeastern Great Basin Advisory Council, Mojave Southern Great Basin Advisory Council, the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, the various grazing permittees and other interested parties.
“We want input and integration from all these groups on how the acres have been managed before the monument designation and how we would like to see them managed now,” Price said.
She added the workshops and public meetings probably would not be started until sometime after the first of the new year.
Later Price said BLM would like to do some public workshops that are “topic oriented such as livestock grazing and valid existing rights, access and transportation management and recreation.” She added, “We can structure those however the issues come out in the stakeholder meetings.”
After the public meetings phase, Price said BLM would then move into what she called “the classic scoping process where we have all of the issues identified that need to be handled and we will end up with a stand alone management plan for the national monument.”
She cited a management plan for the BLM Ely District that was created in 2008, “as a good plan. We’d like to make that our starting point.”
She said BLM has submitted an application for SNPLMA funding to help with the workshops, but has not received notification as yet.
Regarding questions on continued grazing, Ely district manager Mike Herder said grazing would be permitted on the monument and administered the same way it has been in the past. “We anticipate that livestock operations that require range improvement projects will be included in the workshops.”
Price noted the livestock grazing portion in the proclamation is “much better than any of the other ones. The language contained makes it very clear that livestock grazing will be allowed to continue under the current laws and regulation. I think that is about as strong and competent as we can be. It is our intention to start from that point and go forward. There is no reason to change anything.”
The Basin and Range National Monument, designated by Presidential proclamation on July 10, 2015, is the first BLM-managed national monument in Nevada. It comprises 704,000 acres of Ely District-administered lands in Lincoln and Nye counties. The monument includes Garden and Coal valleys; the Seaman and Worthington mountains, Golden Gate and Mount Irish ranges; the Hiko and White River narrows; and Shooting Gallery rock art site. The monument was created under the Antiquities Act because of its geological, ecological, cultural, historical, paleoecological, seismological, archaeological and paleoclimatological significance.