Monday, November 16, 2015

Nevada neighborhood first to feel sting of sage-grouse rules

One of the first, actual on-the-ground disruptions caused by new U.S. efforts to protect the greater sage grouse isn’t on a cattle ranch in Oregon or an oil field in Colorado. It’s in the backyard of a residential neighborhood north of Reno, Nevada, where plans to acquire federal land to build a badly needed school are on hold because the government considers it sage grouse habitat. Two mining companies and eight Nevada counties claim the land planning amendments announced in conjunction with Jewell’s listing decision in September will prevent construction of a $500 million wind project in Elko County and could “run ranchers and mining companies out of business.” But unlike those concerns — which government lawyers call “speculative, at best” — Washoe County officials say they are now forced to find an alternative site for a new middle school in Sun Valley. Officials had applied to acquire Bureau of Land Management property in 2008 for the school. “At this point, we appear to be stopped by the sage grouse designation,” said Michael Boster, a school district planner. The plight of the future school — along with a veteran’s cemetery proposed on similar BLM land in neighboring Sparks — is putting the spotlight on the regulations and the maps used to implement them...more

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