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Beatty board backs Ash Meadows conservancy plans

BEATTY — At its May 6 meeting, the Beatty Town Advisory Board voted to send a letter supporting the Amargosa Conservancy’s conceptual map showing the boundary of its proposed Ash Meadows mineral withdrawal area.

Mason Voeht, executive director of the conservancy, explained that the mineral withdrawal would prevent new mining claims within that area for 20 years, and would buy time for other steps, such as an act of Congress, to be taken.

Creating the withdrawal is within the power of the secretary of the interior, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada recently made that request after the conservancy gave her a tour of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to more endemic species, including the Devils Hole Pupfish, than any other site in the United States.

Voeht said that drilling and pit operations proposed by Rover Metals endangered the springs at the refuge and could also adversely affect the groundwater supply for Amargosa Valley and of the Timbisha Shoshone tribe in Death Valley. The company recently revised their plan to some extent, but not enough, in the conservancy’s view, to make a difference. Voeht said that the company’s CEO was “doubling down” on the project.

Voeht explained that existing mining claims in the withdrawal area, if proven, would be grandfathered in.

The Board of County Commissioners has already given their support to the mineral withdrawal effort.

Groundwater was also a concern for Beatty area resident Kevin Emmerich, as the BTAB OK’d sending a comment letter to the BLM concerning Corvus Gold’s North Bullfrog project. Emmerich stressed that, given that water use by the mining operation could drop the groundwater level in the northern part of Oasis Valley by several feet, and that recovery could take 200 years, this should be a serious issue of concern.

The board also voted to send a tentative fiscal year 2025 town budget to the county finance department for review and to send a comment letter to Nye County Planning Director Wagoner regarding Bill 2024-3 having to do with special use permits.

Richard Stephens is a freelance reporter living in Beatty.

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