County joins chorus asking BLM for race permit

Nye County officials penned a letter to the Ely District office of the Bureau of Land Management asking to support a travel path for off-road racing that goes through the Basin and Range National Monument.

Nye County joined a bevy of other state and federal officials who asked to allow a permit for the 20th annual Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race, which is slated to cross a portion of Basin and Range National Monument in Nye and Lincoln counties.

In a letter to Michael Herder, field manager at the BLM’s Ely district office, Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone asked the agency to consider Nye County’s comments on the Best in the Desert’s event environmental assessment.

“This agency has never objected to the activities enjoyed by the participants of the Best in the Desert activities. We welcome Best in the Desert and their participants to Nye County and have benefited from their visits as well as enjoyed their partnership with maintaining the roads they use during their event,” Carbone said.

In the letter, Carbone said that the preferred alternative presented by Best in the Desert to use the route through the new Basin and Range National Monument is an opportunity to showcase the new monument.

Last week, Nevada Reps Cresent Hardy and Mark Amodei sent a letter to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell that said there is no regulatory or scientific reason to deny a permit for the race.

President Barack Obama designated the 704,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument in July, 2015.

The presidential proclamation has guaranteed that valid existing rights will be reorganized, according to the documents.

Those valid existing rights include minor county roads that are proposed in the preferred alternative. The environmental assessment stated that the proposed event will have no significant impact on the monument.

Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said that Best in the Desert is the only group that has been doing off-road racing in Nye County.

“They have worked through old problems with road maintenance and have become a welcome contributor to the economies of our communities,” Wichman said.

The historical rights in the new Basin and Range National Monument were expressly protected in the presidential proclamation.

The preferred race route would take in a small section of the new monument south of Lund, west of Highway 318. The route maps are all on the BLM website.

While the Basin and Range Management Plan is still being developed, it is Nye County’s hope to see the plan stay within the principles of proclamation, Carbone said.

“In the collective mind of the Nye County Board of Commissioners, if the BLM stays true to the proclamation with this event, we will be provided a measure of trust for the future of the protected rights recognized in the proclamation,” he said in a letter.

The BLM is conducting an environmental review of the 643-mile race that is supposed to start on Aug. 19 near Alamo in Lincoln County and end in Dayton near Carson City.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at On Twitter: @dariasokolova77