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Beatty official warns of potential flooding if Amargosa River isn’t maintained

BEATTY — “We’ve got a potential catastrophe on our hands.”

That’s what Beatty Town Advisory Board member Perry Forsyth warned at the board’s June 11 meeting.

Forsyth was referring to the potential of dangerous flash flooding from the Amargosa River, which flows through the town.

He cited major flood events on Labor Day 1968, and in February of 1969 or 1970, the first of which, according to Forsyth hit the town with an 8-foot wall of water, and the other with 15 feet of the same.

In the 1968 flood, a large mobile home was washed against a bridge, forming an accidental dam which contributed to flood damage in town.

Luckily, no lives were lost in either event.

Forsyth wanted to send a letter to the Nye County Commission asking them to find out who was responsible for maintaining the river channel and asking for it to be cleared of trees, weeds and brush.

“We need to restructure the whole river bed through town,” said Forsyth, saying that it would be expensive, but that it was necessary.

“I know we have wildlife like pupfish and Amargosa toads, and I don’t want to lose them,” he added, but I don’t want to lose a person either.”

Resident Karl Olson commented, “I appreciate what you’re doing, but you’re going to have quite an environmental brawl.”

Sections of the riverbed have been worked on in the past to mitigate flood risk, but vegetation, particularly cottonwood trees, quickly comes back.

One such project, done in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, created a bare flood channel along the riverbed behind the Stagecoach Hotel and Casino and adjoining properties while leaving wetland habitat for wildlife.

Olson and Board Chair Erika Gerling said that they believed that the Army Corps of Engineers had authority over the river bed. (A Corps of Engineers mission statement mentions, “dredging America’s waterways,” and “devising hurricane and storm damage infrastructure…reducing risks from disasters.”

Gerling suggested tabling the matter until the board could learn more about who was responsible, and the board agreed.

The board agreed to spend $10,000 for a half-page ad in the game program of the Las Vegas Golden Knights or the Las Vegas Raiders. The Amargosa Town Board had already agreed to do the same, and the Beatty decision included a provision to place the ad in the opposite team’s program from the one Amargosa chose and to consult with Amargosa to see if both communities could be promoted in the ads.

The board voted to send a thank you letter to Death Valley National Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds for work done on the roads in the Nevada Triangle portion of the park.

Despite Gerling’s reaction, “Every other week we’re asking them for something else,” and suggesting giving them a break, the board also voted to send a letter requesting the dragging of the railroad grades in the Triangle.

The board also voted to write to Nye County Public Works regarding the poor condition of the Rhyolite road, asking for a maintenance report and a plan to repair it.

There is a vacant seat on the BTAB due to the resignation of Melody Koivu. The board set a deadline of July 1 at 5 p.m. for the submission of letters of interest to the town office from anyone interested in filling that position.

Richard Stephens is a freelance reporter living in Beatty.

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