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Task force seeks support of federal lands transfer

Reported by: Antonio Castelan
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Updated: 8/01 6:17 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews 3) — A committee of state legislators will be asked Friday to support a resolution calling on Congress to begin deeding public lands in Nevada to the state.

The Nevada Land Management Task Force voted unanimously at its July 18 meeting to ask lawmakers to adopt a joint resolution to Congress seeking the transfer of millions of acres of federal lands to the state in phases.

The tax force, created by the 2013 Legislature to study the administration of public lands, includes a commissioner from each of the 17 counties. Many of them are ranchers.

In a letter to the chairman of the Interim Committee on Public Lands, Task Force Chair Demar Dahl did not ask for action by the committee, but is expected to make that argument at Friday’s committee meeting in Ely.

“In order for the study to possess the integrity necessary to gain broad support, it required the effort of a very dedicated Task Force Membership and full participation of every member who had been chosen to serve,” Dahl wrote in his letter to Assemblyman Paul Aizley, chairman of the interim committee. Dahl, an Elko County commissioner, also credited the work of the Nevada Association of Counties, which spearheaded the creation of the task force, and Intertech Services Inc., which conducted the research.

The task force will ask the interim legislative committee to support a bill draft request to the 2015 Legislature for a joint resolution to Congress. The resolution calls for the deeding of federal lands to the state in phases. The first phase would total 7.2 million acres.

The proposal exempts federal lands deemed environmentally sensitive and culturally important by Congress. Lands administered by the Department of Defense or the Department of Energy, wilderness areas, national parks and monuments, wildlife refuges, Indian reservations, national conservation areas and lands set aside for protection of the desert tortoise would not be included in the state’s requests.

The task force’s resolution estimates that Nevada could generate annual revenues between $56 million and $206 million by taking control of the lands identified in the first phase. These lands include areas where the federal government is paid leases and fees for solar projects, oil and mining operations, geothermal energy production and grazing.

Money generated for the state by these lands would be designated for education, mental health services, senior and veteran services, protection of endangered species and infrastructure provided by local governments for these lands.

Should the Nevada Legislature adopt this resolution and forward it to Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives would need to approve and the president would need to sign the legislation.

See the full report at Nevada Association of Counties website 
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