August 22, 2014
As our communities grow, those seeking a more rural lifestyle are staying a couple of moves ahead of development, moving even further into the high desert valleys of our state. That brings them into conflict with ranchers who have been there considerably longer.
But now some residents say the cattle and those running them have little respect for private property, wander on to their land and are now a menace. In addition to using their private property, the cattle's use of nearby cottonwood creek is causing a health hazard that the county can't ignore.
At this point, Nevada's open range law, written in the 19th century, may favor the rancher. The law makes it the responsibility of the private property owner to prevent damage from cattle grazing on adjacent open range. Anyone buying land out here, by law, has to be informed of that law.
The county's options are limited. They could declare this a congested area, the cattle would have to be fenced or leave, but the property owners don't want that. They'd find themselves under a number of other restrictions as well. Or they could declare this a Livestock control area as Pershing County did in Grass Valley south of Winnemucca. That would seem to require the county to fence the entire area. Or they could choose to do nothing.
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