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 firstname.lastname@example.org , 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:
As the City evaluates the treatment of the nine topical areas or issues  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 184.108.40.206 – 1. It is important for the future growth of Mesquite that ACECs not be shown at Riverside.
Recreation – The City prefers that nearby lands  remain under the Southern Nevada Extensive Recreation Management Area (ERMA) as shown on Map 220.127.116.11 – 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 18.104.22.168 – 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.
Map 22.214.171.124 – 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,
The City of Mesquite prefers Alternative 1 as depicted on Map 126.96.36.199 – 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:
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.
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.
Show Flat Top Mesa and that portion of Riverside shown on the City’s Master Plan as Disposal Areas. Alternatives 3 and 4 (Maps 188.8.131.52 – 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.
 Disposal Boundaries, ACECs, Recreation, OHV, Visual Resources, Wilderness, Solar Energy, Wind Energy, and Fluid Minerals
 Flat Top Mesa, Riverside, Mormon Mesa, and Gold Butte