Public input needed on lands bill

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A new federal lands bill is being proposed for Washoe County, and officials are seeking public input.

Eighty-three percent of Washoe County is owned by the federal government, and the county says this slows our ability to grow, does not allow local government to determine where land is sold, and limits its role in where developments occur. The Washoe County Economic Development and Conservation Act would give local governments a say in where land is sold and developed to ensure growth is sustainable and supportable.

Lands eligible for sale or exchange would be those lands held by Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service identified in the disposal boundary to help allow development while not encouraging sprawl. Annually, Washoe County may nominate to the federal land managers specific parcels, subject to valid and existing rights and authorized uses, for sale or exchange. The land will stay in control of the federal government until the land is sold, and they have final authority to determine if parcels can be sold.

Under the bill, 10% of land sale proceeds will be paid directly to the county, 5% of land sale proceeds will be paid to the State of Nevada for education, and 85% of land sale proceeds will stay with Nevada BLM, as opposed to being sent to Washington DC to be used for conservation efforts including drought mitigation, wildfire prevention, sage grouse restoration and more.

The land transfers that exist in the bill are for use by public agencies only and can only be used for a public purpose. If the land is not used for its intended purpose as outlined in the bill, the transfer would reverse and ownership would revert to the original Federal agency who previously managed the land.

April 24 and 26, the county held public meetings to get input on the economics of the bill. Several people attended to speak out against it, saying they felt officials were trying to push the bill through without the public's attention.

"The CIA couldn't keep a better secret," one man said.

For more information or to view the updated proposed maps and bill draft language, click here.

If you would like to weigh in on the bill, but cannot attend the meeting, click here.