97°F
weather icon Clear

Nye on Nevada, June 26

Drought, fires and sage grouse dominate Western Governors’ meeting

INCLINE VILLAGE — The long-range forecast doesn’t bode well for the interior West as it chokes on a fourth year of drought and smoke from wildfires.

With the fire season ramping up and temperatures starting to soar, drought and fire dominated the discussion at the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting being held this week.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has chaired the group for the past year, made drought his signature initiative, bringing together water experts and managers to develop best practices for water management and drought preparation.

From the Colorado River Basin, which has experienced drought for nearly two decades, to Lake Tahoe and groundwater basins around the West, water sources are stressed, and tough planning is needed to ensure urban areas and rural economies can survive as competition for water intensifies.

No specifics were talked about, but a report released to the group Wednesday outlined seven items as critical for drought preparation.

While not a surprise, the long-range forecast from Manson Brown, deputy administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, caused Sandoval and other governors concern.

Brown said drought conditions “will persist or intensify” as the summer progresses, and winter months that bring rain or snow are unlikely to deliver drought-busting precipitation.

With the exception of Southern California and the desert Southwest, “winter precipitation is expected to be near normal or below normal West of the Rockies,” Brown said.

Much of the West is seeing the effects of drought through low water levels in rivers and reservoirs and tinder-dry forests. Farm fields are being left bare, and some small communities are trucking in water because of wells gone dry.

Earlier in the day, Sandoval was joined by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on a tour of the Washington Fire burning about 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe. The lightning-sparked fire has burned about 17,000 acres.

About 500 firefighters from state, local and federal agencies are battling the blaze in tall timber in rough terrain.

Wildfires are not confined to Nevada and California. Some 475 fires are burning in Alaska.

Jewell praised the collaboration of fire agencies and said that kind of teamwork is needed tackle other tough Western issues.

“We’re not the enemy,” Jewell said of the federal agency. “We actually work collectively toward a common purpose.”

But Jewell endured some criticism over sage grouse, a chicken-sized bird dependent on a healthy sagebrush ecosystem. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under a federal court mandate to determine by the end of September whether the greater sage grouse found in 11 Western states and parts of Canada should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

States fear a listing could put the brakes on energy development, mining, ranching and other economic development efforts, seriously crippling Western economies.

Sandra Chereb

Internet gambling ban bill introduced to Senate

WASHINGTON — Legislation that would reimpose a ban on legalized online gambling was introduced Wednesday in the U.S. Senate.

The bill by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would restore an interpretation of federal law that prohibited Internet gambling until a 2011 opinion by the Department of Justice opened the door for states to explore making poker and casino-style games legal online.

Since then, Nevada has legalized online poker while Delaware and New Jersey have legalized a broader suite of games. The new bill does not contain a grandfather clause that would allow those to continue legally.

The legislation from Graham, who is running for president, would carry out the goals of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner who has put big money behind a campaign against online gambling. Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., has argued that making wagers over the Internet is corrosive to society and bad business for the casino industry.

On the other hand, a coalition of conservatives and casinos who see the Internet as a new frontier for marketing and profits that could be made off ’net betting have argued that states should be given the ability to decide for themselves whether to allow residents to wager online.

The fight over online gambling has provided full employment for dozens of lobbyists retained by the major interests on both sides, as well as Native American tribes, poker players, the horse racing industry and others affected in some way or another.

Steve Tetreault

Federal official: Bundy will be held accountable

INCLINE VILLAGE — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday she is confident that Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, who with armed supporters faced down federal officials over grazing cattle on public land, will be held accountable.

“Cliven Bundy has had multiple court orders to remove his cattle from federal public lands and he has not paid his grazing fees and he has not abided by the law,” Jewell told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We will continue to pursue that.”

Jewell spoke in Incline Village, where she was to deliver the keynote address to the Western Governors’ Association later in the day.

In April 2014, Bundy supporters from around the country congregated on his remote Southern Nevada ranch after Bureau of Land Management officers tried to round up his cattle for failing to pay $1 million in grazing fees over the past 20 years.

A tense standoff ensued before federal officials backed down and the cattle were released back to the range.

“The safety of our law enforcement officers and the safety of people that represent land managers at every level is of paramount importance to me,” Jewell said.

“The wheels of justice move at their own pace,” Jewell said. “I am confident this issue is going to be appropriately resolved.”

Sandra Chereb

Sandra Chereb and Steve Tetreault are political reporters for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Exposure forces closure of Pahrump Justice Court

The Pahrump Justice Court announced Monday that it will be closed effective Tuesday, July 7 because of a COVID-19 exposure.

Tax deadline coming up on July 15

As the July 15 deadline for filing income taxes nears, the IRS is reminding taxpayers who have yet to file that IRS.gov has tools and services to help them meet their tax obligations.

Bars closed again in Nye, 6 other Nevada counties

Nye County was one of seven Nevada counties affected when the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services announced the elevated disease transmission criteria for determining whether a county must revert to Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan for bars.

Pahrump pool season sinks amid lack of lifeguards

After the announcement that the 2020 Pahrump Community Pool season had been scrapped because of a lack of staffing applicants and the subsequent push to get more locals to apply for one one of the open positions that followed, the town of Pahrump was hoping that this year’s pool season would be saved.

Appreciation Picnic honors Pahrump’s and Nye’s first responders

With red, white and blue decorations gracing tables, American flags and banners lining the fence and snapping in the breeze, balloons floating in the air and big smiles at the ready, area residents came together last week to honor the men and women who take on the duties of first responders for not just Pahrump but the entire county of Nye.

UNR scientists make key advance in X-ray images

A team of scientists, led by University of Nevada, Reno’s Hiroshi Sawada, an associate professor of physics, demonstrated that numerical modeling accurately reproduces X-ray images using laser-produced X-rays. The images were obtained using the university’s chirped pulse amplification-based 50-terawatt Leopard laser at their Zebra Pulsed Power Lab.

Studies determine shutdown saved millions

Two separate research studies determined that shutdown orders prevented about 60 million coronavirus infections in the United States and saved about 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries.

Bicyclist dies after being struck by vehicle

A Pahrump man is dead after being struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle Friday evening, July 3rd.

Camp Fire of 2018 leads to new wildfire research

Moved by the tragedy of the 2018 Camp Fire, a team of engineers and scientists are coming together in a new five-year project to develop a comprehensive computational, live digital platform to predict and monitor wildfire risk that can be used by wildfire managers, emergency responders and utility companies to plan for, respond to and remediate wildfires.