Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) held a teleconference July 18 with members of the media in rural Nevada.
He mentioned three things in his opening remarks before taking questions from those participating by phone.
Regarding wildfires in Nevada, he said, “We’ve had some big fires recently,” which includes the present Martin fire, near Winnemucca, 57 miles long, 31 miles wide, covering over 435,000 acres as of July 16.
“We’ve lost a lot of good ranches and a lot of cattle in the fire.”
He said he visited with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke July 18 and raised some concerns about “what to do to mitigate some of the problems we have both with the grazing allotments and the loss of cattle.”
Zinke shared an idea that worked well in Montana which might be tried in Nevada. Heller explained it would be “to open up previously closed areas, but areas which had been allotted for grazing before being closed, to let cattle graze there through the remainder of the summer to help farmers and ranchers out.”
Heller said, “I’m going to look at that idea and see if we can get some relief to the cattlemen in that area.”
In a recent meeting with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Heller said he learned 10 percent of the wildfires in the U.S. in 2017 were in Nevada, roughly 1.2 million acres.
Heller said he was able to secure $226,000 to fund a pilot program to be done at the Lake Tahoe basin to replace the USDA Forest Service mountain-top lookouts with 20-30 HD cameras strategically placed in the basin to cover 100 percent of the basin, which can be monitored all at the same time.
“We are looking to see if this pilot program is a more efficient and effective way to monitor and suppress potential wildfires. The basin of Lake Tahoe was determined to be a great testing site.”
Heller said he planned to meet this week with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. “I plan to raise questions on his stand on several of the amendments to the Constitution, just to get a feel of where he is, and I want him to know what some of my issues and concerns are.”
He expects the hearings on Kavanaugh to possibly last clear through October “if the other side doesn’t want to cooperate, so it could be delayed for some time.”
On Veterans Affairs, a committee of which Heller is a member, he said he plans to bring newly nominated Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie to Nevada “for a roundtable meeting involving Veterans Service Organizations and individuals who want to ask Wilke questions. I want him to be aware of what are the concerns of the veterans in the state of Nevada.” A date, time, and place are yet to be determined.
Heller, who is in a tough reelection race with Democratic challenger Jackie Rosen of Las Vegas, said he plans to soon campaign around the state.
He said he usually makes a circuit on Labor Day to Elko, Winnemucca, Fallon, Virginia City, and Washoe County and also hopes to come to Lincoln County sometime prior to the election.