Contact: Jim Jeffress (775) 560-9594
Pine Forest Bill Clears House Committee
Bill could be one of the first with a wilderness component in recent years
Washington D.C. -- A bill to help secure the future of the Pine Forest Range moved through the House Natural Resources Committee today, one of the first bills with a wilderness component to make such progress in recent years.
“The good news is it continues to move forward and we are happy to see that,” said Bill Deist, County Administrator for Humbolt County. “However, we are somewhat concerned about the changes that were made to the original language that we worked so hard to draft. It was a true ‘from the ground up’ process which resulted in a clean bill. We look forward to passage of the bill in the near future as it was originally drafted by the residents of Nevada."
In recent years, wilderness related bills have come to a halt. The previous Congress was the first not to pass any sort of wilderness legislation since 1966.
Even with the changes - which stakeholder groups are currently reviewing - the Pine Forest bill could be the first to break that dry spell.
“The momentum this bill has speaks to the cooperation between stakeholders and their willingness to find solutions when it comes to land management,” said Jim Jeffress, Nevada backcounty coordinator with Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “Having a wilderness component has been a non starter in recent years. But this process was issue driven and because of the work from the people on the ground, we have a sound bill worth passing that will remedy issues that have been evident since the inception of the Wilderness Study Areas in question.”
The Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act of 2013 is supported by Nevada’s entire congressional delegation. It was combined today with other Nevada bills as the Northern Nevada Land Conservation and Economic Development Act. The final outcome of the Pine Forest portion of the bill will include road relocations, lands being released from wilderness and private land exchanges that border the proposed wilderness and the creation of a new wilderness area in the northwestern part of Nevada from two existing Wilderness Study Areas.
The proposed wilderness, which expands the Blue Lakes Wilderness Study Area but releases much of the Alder Creek WSA for multiple use management, would conserve an area of Nevada that provides some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the state. Mule deer, pronghorn antelope and California bighorn sheep thrive in a landscape that ranges from 5,400 to more than 9,000 feet of elevation. The area also provides habitat for sage grouse, chukar partridge and valley quail and most wildlife species found in the Great basin. Three fishable lakes, the Blues Lakes complex, Onion Valley and Knott Creek reservoirs, are popular destinations for thousands of anglers who visit each summer and fall.
“This would never have happened if it were not for the cooperation from the recreationalists , conservationists, ranchers, wilderness groups and hunting groups. All their combined efforts made this bill one that we can all be proud of,” said Mike Bell, Humbolt County Commissioner.