weather icon Light Rain

Commissioners OK desert tortoise conservation zones

Nye County commissioners held a conference call Wednesday morning, approving four desert tortoise mitigation zones as part of a habitat conservation plan for the endangered animal.

The four zones would be incorporated into a new resource management plan by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Pahrump Field Office; the draft is due to be released soon.

Nye County has discussed a desert tortoise habitat conservation plan for more than 10 years but one has never been approved. Previous plans suggested areas of high impacts to the tortoise, low impacts and no impacts with per-acre mitigation fees set accordingly.

The letter from commissioners states, “the Nye County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is in full support of the concept of utilizing public lands administered by BLM as mitigation lands for purpose of the Mojave Desert Tortoise Habitat Conservation Plan being prepared by Nye County.”

Developer Tim Hafen questioned where the four areas would be, known as Specter Range North, Specter Range South, North Amargosa Desert and Pahrump Valley East. Nye County Acting Natural Resources Manager Levi Kryder said the Pahrump Valley East Zone would be dissected by the eastern end of Simkins Road, east of the town boundaries but west of the Clark County line. Another area is north of Pahrump Junction at the intersection of Highway 95 and Highway 160 bordering the Nevada National Security Site. Another site is southeast of Beatty bordering the Nellis Air Force Training and Test Range; still another site is along the California state line south of Beatty.

Hafen, who has been an outspoken participant during previous attempts to draft a county habitat conservation plan for the desert tortoise, said he’s now opposed to a plan and supports a request by Clark County to de-list the tortoise from the endangered species list.

Hafen pointed to the release of desert tortoises in Trout Canyon last summer and added during previous meetings with former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service state director Bob Williams he suggested the best way to deal with desert tortoises was to take them out of harm’s way and put them in an area where they can survive.

Nye County Nuclear Waste Repository Project Officer Director Darrell Lacy assured Hafen the proposed Pahrump Valley East location is totally outside of private land that’s been developed with streets, but is on land managed by the BLM. But Lacy said the details are still being worked out.

Lacy said the county received a letter from the BLM just last week, which set a Feb. 7 deadline to include the mitigation areas in the resource management plan. The county doesn’t have the resources now to prepare a habitat conservation plan for the desert tortoise, he said.

“We did sign on to a letter saying we will not spend any tax money on tortoises,” Commissioner Frank Carbone said.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Cortez Masto, Titus sponsor lands bill for Southern Nevada

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, introduced the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act, which will protect more than 2 million acres of public land for conservation and recreation while allowing Clark County to develop affordable housing and responsibly plan for population growth projections.

Two-vehicle crash sends one driver to DVH

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services crews transported one person to Desert View Hospital after responding to a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Floyd Street and Basin Avenue just before 12 p.m. on Wednesday March 3rd.

Spring Mountain racing facility hosts a job fair

Expansion plans are again underway at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club on the far south end of Pahrump.

Fire destroys outbuilding, personal property

A structure fire in a non-hydrant neighborhood, created a few challenges for Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services crews last week.

Report reflects measures to boost in-person schools

The Nevada Health Response Center highlighted support provided by the Nevada Department of Education, Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health and other state agencies to ensure that Nevada students and educators can have access to in-person education in as safe a manner as possible.

Extension programs will focus on human resources

University of Nevada, Reno Extension will hold two online town halls to help small businesses with current human resources issues and give tips on how to better use technology to help with human resources tasks.

Group holds event to raise awareness of proposed solar projects

Basin and Range Watch, a nonprofit that advocates for conservation of deserts across California and Nevada, recently held a socially distanced rally against solar projects in the desert. The event was also broadcast via Zoom for those unable to attend.