Plans for Campground at Galena Draws Opposition

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Plans for a 100-site county-run campground near Reno are drawing opposition from a group of upscale neighbors concerned about fire danger.

A petition signed by more than 370 residents opposed to the project has been submitted to Washoe County and the U.S. Forest Service, joint sponsors of the plan.

Residents say they worry the Galena Creek County Park addition could worsen traffic congestion on the Mount Rose Highway, foul the air with campfire smoke and diminish property values.

But their chief concern is that campers could spark a major wildfire in the Sierra Nevada just southwest of Reno.

"Our concern is 100 fire pits with 100 opportunities for a potential wildfire," said Randy York, president of the Galena Forest Estates Homeowners Association.

Kenneth Wolt is so opposed to the campground he's stalling plans to build a new 6,000-square-foot house in the gated Montreaux development "until this project is shelved."

The Southern California resident had some property burned in last year's wildfires there.

"You're just asking for trouble when you do things like this," Wolt told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "I think that's a disaster waiting to happen."

But homeowner Debra Barrus supports the campground, saying she tried to reserve a group campsite in the Reno area for a family reunion this summer only to find every place already booked.

Opponents are exaggerating potential dangers and any problems that surface could be managed, Barrus said.

"I think it would be lovely to have a close place to go camping," she said. "I get really irritated at people with the not-in-my-backyard mentality."

Gary Schiff, chief of the Forest Service's Carson Ranger District, said officials are open to alternatives, including a smaller campground or just improved day-use facilities.

"Our hope is we can reach a decision that most people can agree on," Schiff said. "Will everyone agree? Probably not."

The project will be considered on May 18 by Washoe County commissioners. A final decision is expected next fall.