May 16, 2013
Jim Jeffress, Trout Unlimited (775) 560-9594
Shauna Sherard, Trout Unlimited (307) 757-7861
For Immediate Release
Pine Forest Clears Senate Committee with bipartisan support
Sportsmen eagerly await committee action in the House
Washington D.C. - A bill that would designate new wilderness in Nevada was favorably reported by the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee with a broad base of support, and now awaits action in the full U.S. Senate.
The bill, the Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act of 2013 (S. 342), was introduced by Senators Heller (R-NV) and Reid (D-NV). A companion bill, H.R. 433, was introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) in the House, supported by entire Nevada congressional delegation. The bills will create a new wilderness area in the northwestern part of Nevada from two existing Wilderness Study Areas (WSA). The news was greeted with excitement from those involved in this Humboldt County “ground level” WSA review process from across northern Nevada.
The diverse group who worked on the bill welcomed the news.
“We’ve been looking forward to seeing this legislation proceed through Congress,” said Bill Deist, Humboldt County Administrator. “A lot of people have. Remember, this bill represents a broad cross-section of interests - from hunters, anglers, ranchers, green groups to sporting groups, Democrats to Republicans, you name it. This legislation is a true representation of the people of our county. That can’t be said about many other wilderness bills, or many bills in general. We’re grateful to Senators Heller and Reid as well as Congressman Amodei, for having the foresight to see the importance such legislation has to the people of Nevada, regardless of their affiliation.”
The proposed wilderness, which expands the Blue Lakes WSA 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.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer,” said Jim Jeffress, the Nevada backcountry coordinator with Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “It’s not an easy process, there’s no doubt. But some places are worth the effort it takes to protect them. The Pine Forest definitely falls under that heading. When you see a big covey of chukar or some bighorn enroute to the lakes or pronghorn race in front of you, it just doesn’t get much better than that. There’s no doubt, places like this need to remain in tact and deserve protection.”
Having been reported out of committee, the bill now awaits a vote in the full U.S. Senate. H.R. 433 has yet to be considered in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“With the broad-based support of this bill in Humboldt County and northern Nevada, we look for this legislation to pass through committee in the House in an equally smooth fashion as it did in the Senate,” said Deist. “Since the County Commission passed the recommendations found in this legislation in 2010, no opposition to this bill has been brought to our attention. Rather, the support continues to grow. The review process we sanctioned resulted in the right recommendations for this area of our county.”
Buck Johnson, family owner of the Alder Creek Ranch, was a key stakeholder who helped craft the recommendations. Johnson’s livestock operation fits within the WSA.
"We're hopeful," said Johnson. "We know our delegation is working hard, but we need to see it through. This legislation will make our operation even better. All the user groups who worked hard to develop the recommendations are eagerly awaiting its passage."