BLM Refuses to Extend Comment Period

It was confirmed in an email to Mesquite City Manage Andy Barton on Wednesday, March 4, that the Bureau of Land Management will not be extending their deadline for the public comment period for their Resource Management Plan in the Las Vegas and Pahrump areas.

The email, from Field Manager Gayle Marrs-Smith, who attended and spoke at the special meeting with City Council this past Tuesday, stated that sufficient time has been given as well as two extensions already.

“Thank you for the opportunity to address the Mesquite City Council on March 3. I forwarded to our senior managers the request by members of the city council to extend the public comment period for the Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP). The comment period was originally 90 days, ending January 7, 2015. After this initial comment period, BLM extended the public comment period twice, resulting in a total review period of 150 days. We understand that the document is large and complex, however we believe that we have allowed sufficient time for agencies and stakeholders to review the document and provide their input to the BLM. We therefore will not be granting another extension of time for public comment.”

Speculation into why press releases of the initial comment period as well as the lack of scheduling of special ‘Town Hall’ like meetings are igniting, ranging from issues with Cliven Bundy last year and the aftermath to the ‘threats’ made by Cliven’s sons at Tuesday’s meeting.

The email goes on to state that the City of Mesquite is considered as a cooperating agency and that the BLM “will have opportunities to work closely with the City of Mesquite over the course of the next few months to address your comments as we prepare the final plan.”

Monday’s comment deadline is fast approaching. Those wishing to comment on the RMP may do so by faxing specific comments to 702-515-5023, emailing to sndo_rmp_revision@blm.gov , via the website at http://tinyurl.com/qvzaht7 or by mail to BLM Southern Nevada District Office, Las Vegas/Pahrump Field Offices, Draft RMP/Draft EIS, 4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130.

Below are the recommendations made from the City to the BLM:

RECOMMENDATIONS

As the City evaluates the treatment of the nine topical areas or issues [1] under the four draft Alternative Plans, it is apparent that Alternative 1 meets most of the City’s preferences.  And that with a little tweaking, Alternative 1 could meet all our wishes for this plan.

Alternative 1 best meets our goals in the following topical areas:

Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC)  – The City prefers to show no Biological, Cultural, or Desert Tortoise ACECs on Flat Top Mesa and Riverside, and only those currently shown in the existing plan for Mormon Mesa (Desert Tortoise) and Gold Butte (Cultural, Biological, & Desert Tortoise) as shown on Map 2.6.3.1 – 1.  It is important for the future growth of Mesquite that ACECs not be shown at Riverside.

Recreation – The City prefers that nearby lands [2] remain under the Southern Nevada Extensive Recreation Management Area (ERMA) as shown on Map 2.6.2.4 – 5.  The ERMA maintains a “variety of dispersed recreation opportunities that facilitate visitor freedom to access a range of outdoor recreation activities associated with a wide-open landscape with limited developments.”

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV)

Map 2.6.2.4 – 1 (Alternative 1) is our preferred alternative.  It has the highest number of acres open to OHV (26,563) usage of all the alternatives.  Also, it’s the only alternative that allows OHVs on “existing roads, trails and dry washes” in Toquop Wash, Riverside and two significant areas of Gold Butte.

Visual Resources

Map 2.6.1.12 – 1 (Alternative 1) is our preferred alternative.  It has the smallest number of acres in Class I protected visual resources (47,562), and the largest number of acres in the Class III category “where changes in the basic elements (form, line, color, or texture) caused by a management activity may be evident in the characteristic landscape,” as long as they “remain subordinate to the visual strength of the existing character.” And,

Wilderness

The City of Mesquite prefers Alternative 1 as depicted on Map 2.6.1.13 – 1.  This map shows existing BLM Wilderness in Mormon Mountains, Lime Canyon, and Jumbo Springs, and the Wilderness Study Areas in Virgin Mountains and Million Hills.  All other areas of interest to the City (Flat Top Mesa, Mormon Mesa, Riverside, and the balance of Gold Butte) are designated “Bureau of Land Management.”  This alternative contains no other wilderness study areas or “lands with wilderness characteristics.”

With the following modifications, Alternative 1 could also meet the City’s goals for the following topical areas:

Wind Energy

Amend Alternative 1 to show Flat Top Mesa as an “exclusion area” instead of being open to Wind Energy Development.  This would leave Riverside “open” to possible Wind Energy Development.

Solar Energy

Show Riverside as a “proposed solar energy zone”, but leave Flat Top Mesa and Toquop Wash as “Avoidance / Variance Areas.”  We feel there may be some potential for solar projects in the Flat Top / Toquop areas, but they would need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis so as to not be visible from the Mesquite side of the Mesa.

Disposal Boundaries

Show Flat Top Mesa and that portion of Riverside shown on the City’s Master Plan as Disposal Areas.  Alternatives 3 and 4 (Maps 2.6.2.6 – 3 & 4) show the disposal boundaries as the City would like them to be.  The Riverside disposal area is crucial for the future growth of Mesquite, as the City is hemmed in on the other sides by the Mesa, Lincoln County, Arizona, and Bunkerville.  In the past, the City of Mesquite has expressed interest in the possible acquisition of Flat Top Mesa in order to control what happens with it, and keep it as it is.

Fluid Lease Minerals

Show Flat Top Mesa and the Riverside Disposal Area as “Closed” to fluid mineral development.  But do show “Controlled Surface Use” in the larger Riverside Area and “No Surface Occupancy” up Toquop Wash.

[1] Disposal Boundaries, ACECs, Recreation, OHV, Visual Resources, Wilderness, Solar Energy, Wind Energy, and Fluid Minerals

[2] Flat Top Mesa, Riverside, Mormon Mesa, and Gold Butte

Comments

  1. The BLM’s “comment period” is nothing but Delphi Technique, a Marxist tool to make the public think it’s had real input. The comment period shouldn’t be extended. Instead, the entire RMP should be trashed because it’s outdated. It has been written by BLM staff with next to no credentials in direct conflict with their own scientists. Let’s not forget that the head of the BLM, Neil Kornze is the former Senior Advisor to Harry Reid. Does this smell of collusion to you? It’s time the people of Nevada wake up to the Buck Act and insist on taking this State of Nevada back and following the State and Federal Constitutions. This federal cancer has spread far enough.

    • ken grosh says:

      You are so right. I have seen the USFS use this same technique when closing land, roads and wells in western Nebraska. The activist federal bureaucrats from outside hold multiple meetings, then they do what they intended to do all along, irregardless of the wishes of local citizens.

  2. John Ridgeway says:

    Executive Order 13132 is not being followed as directed. BLM is not exempt from this executive oeder. That document is four and one half pages and very clearly written. That special meeting on March 3, 2015 with BLM and Mesquite city Counsel does not pass the NRS 241.019 exemption definition or the NRS 241.020 public comments definition requirements.

    According to the Mesquite Local News article dated march 7, 2015 by Stephanie Frehner, BLM stated they gave agencies and stakeholders plenty of time. Executive Order 13132 very clearly does not restrict public comments to agencies and stakeholders, Public comments means public comments and includes individual citizens. The same thing applies to NRS 241.019 – .020 inclusive

  3. Liberty Shirl says:

    I agree with what John Ridgeway above has stated and that the BLM is breaching it’s own Executive Order 13132. Our City Councils and County Commissions need to address this serious issue with the BLM. They are required to follow this executive order 13132. This also is what allows the council and commission the authority to work with the individual People and groups to best serve the people first. The BLM must follow what the Council and Commissions direct.

  4. What does the city have to do with anything outside of there city they have no say unless it involves within there city. This is totally irelivant to them. Who thinks they have a say. City council please do your jobs and focus on your city stuff not government agency’s trying to take over county lands. Thanks

  5. I support proposal #1. It is an outrage that so much land in Nevada is being taken away from we the people. Wind energy kills protected birds which they approve it is okay to slaughter in the name of windmills. Wind blades fall off as I have seen in Palm Springs, CA and can’t be repaired for fear that a blade might fly off and kill a worker.
    Solar panerls are temporary fixes and fry protected species both in the sky and on the ground below while providing eledtricity to a limited number of people.

    Precious energy resources like natural gas, and precious metals, are being taken away as well as land for food production and grazing farm animals to feed we the people. Money is the color green.

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