Beatty board tackles racing and bypass issues

Beatty VFW Off-Road Poker Run organizer Karl Olson says that something has to be done about conflicts between that event and off-road racing in the same area.

Olson told the Beatty Town Advisory Board, Oct. 22, that he and others put in a lot of work each year plotting the course for the poker run, a slow-speed guided tour of historical and geological points of interest in the Beatty area.

“We have changed the route each year to keep from pounding the roads,” said Olson. although he also said that anyone driving the route after their event would not find any damage because they limit the speed to no more than 25 miles per hour.

The poker run has had particular conflicts with the S.N.O.R.E. 250, which makes multiple laps around the area. Olson said that means they “rip it up.”

Olson said he watched this year’s S.N.O.R.E. event. He said that 60 vehicles started the course, and only 48 finished.

One problem has been roads that were not repaired or restored before the poker run date. This happened to several areas where the two events’ courses overlapped this year.

Olson said that at least one location has been carved so deep by racers that it will soon be down to bedrock.

Board member Erika Gerling said, “The majority of the criticism should be on the permitting agencies,” because they were telling S.N.O.R.E. that the reclamation they had done was good and were releasing them from responsibility.

It was suggested that Beatty locals should be involved in inspecting the course and approving reclamation work, but Olson said that was hard to do when the public comment period ended one week after the race.

Another suggestion was that sensitive areas of the course could be designated as slow-speed sections.

A major problem has been the scheduling of the two events. The first poker run was held on the last week of October 2014, after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that was the earliest an off-road event could be held.

In 2015, they were offered the third week in October, and that has been the schedule ever since. However, also in 2015, the S.N.O.R.E. race was permitted for the second week in October, which did not provide sufficient time for course reclamation before the VFW event.

Olson pointed out that the development of off-road guides for visitors has made this more than just the annual event itself, and that it benefits the town and its businesses.

Board member Crystal Taylor suggested that one solution would be for the order of the events to be reversed, allowing the VFW event to take place first and giving S.N.O.R.E. more time to work on reclamation.

The board approved sending a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Nye County Public Works, and other agencies involved explaining the problem and asking for more oversight and proper course restoration.

The board members also approved a letter to the Nevada Department of Transportation regarding the proposed Interstate 11 corridor between Las Vegas and Tonopah.

They asked that the report be corrected to show that the Route A-1 alternative that includes Beatty and was designated as “considered accepted” be amended to show that citizens of Beatty have not approved the entire section.

Gerling said she was making sure that Beatty kept “being the squeaky wheel,” to “keep making the point that a bypass has not been approved by the community.”

Richard Stephens is a freelance reporter living in Beatty.

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