weather icon Clear

Resolution asks federal agency to undo 2010 flood damage

County commissioners Tuesday passed a resolution asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore a stream flow to the Patch of Heaven Church Camp in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and compensate the owners for flood damage.

Victor and Annette Fuentes bought 40 acres of private property at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in 2007 from Ron Metheny for $500,000 and turned it into a church camp. They spent $500,000 to build a dining room, three cabins and bunkhouses. The property had a babbling brook running through it, creating an oasis in the desert.

Two years later, the fish and wildlife service outlined plans to reroute a channel running through their property to its original course, which would also help the endangered speckled dace. In December 2010, three and a half inches of rain damaged restoration projects and flooded the church camp.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation filed suit against the fish and wildlife service in January 2012.

NPRI attorney Joe Becker said they sued for a federal taking of vested water rights, which is being heard in the Federal Court of Claims. They also filed suit for exercise of religion in U.S. district court and filed suit in state court against refuge manager Sharon McKelvey. That has been appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Becker said the NPRI already received depositions from county officials in support of their case, the resolution just puts the county on record the fish and wildlife service violated county regulations. The county serves as flood plain administrator. The suit already claims violations of the Federal Emergency Management Act.

“The county said you violated an ordinance to prevent flooding to residents of Nye County,” Becker said.

County officials went beyond just commenting on the project in the wording of the resolution. The county resolution notes the fish and wildlife service is just one of the federal entities that control 98 percent of land in the county.

“Nye County recognizes that this overwhelming percentage of federally controlled land contributes to an environment of federal overreach and abuse of private property rights and leads to the diminishment of due process and rights granted to Nye County’s residents under the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights and Nevada Constitution,” the resolution states.

It accuses the fish and wildlife service of engaging in a prolonged effort to expand land under its control at the refuge, through private land purchases and governmental land transfers in an attempt to expand its sphere of influence and expand the refuge boundaries. It said the environmental impact statement on the stream rerouting gave short shrift to the effects on Nye County residents and property owners living on the refuge.

The exercise of religion claim stems from the fact rerouting the steam affected the church camp’s ability to conduct baptisms, as well as causing meadows and trees to die. The county resolution states the fish and wildlife service didn’t obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to the stream diversion and wetland destruction as required by the Clean Water Act.

“This blatant disregard for following statutorily required processes and permits led the refuge to construct an ill-conceived, unsupervised and inadequately reviewed change in stream channels and storm water flow paths,” the resolution states.

The flood occurred two weeks after refuge officials completed the stream flow diversions, overflowing the channel and causing water to flood through the center of the church camp, resulting in more than $85,000 in property damage.

“Whereas the property that the church camp owns has a vested surface water right and that the diversion of this stream has resulted in a taking of this water right by the federal government,” the resolution states.

Commissioner Lorinda Wichman thanked Commissioner Donna Cox for marshaling the resolution through the county for approval.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Meadows Bank total assets reach $1 billion

Meadows Bank, headquartered in Las Vegas, announced Wednesday that it had reached $1.1 billion in total assets as of June 30. Total equity capital also grew 17% to $126.8 million.

Assembly Bill 4 sparks outrage in Nevada

With the 2020 general election just three months away, Nevada legislators passed Assembly Bill 4 this month, among a stir of outrage from the Legislature’s Republican minority as well as a plethora of residents all across the state. The move has even caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who filed a lawsuit to halt the bill after slamming Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and Democratic legislators for what he termed a “late night coup” that he Tweeted would make it “impossible” for Republicans to win the state in 2020.

2020 Pahrump Fall Festival canceled

The fate of the 2020 Pahrump Fall Festival has now been decided, with the Nye County Commission, sitting as the governing board for the town of Pahrump, voting to call off what is hands-down the largest event in the valley each year, all in the name of public health and safety due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Pahrump’s 2020 Back to School Fair hailed a success

The start of the 2020-2021 school year is just over two weeks away and though students will be heading into an academic year that will look quite a bit different than in years past, one thing that has not changed is the necessity for students to be prepared with all of the school supplies they will need to pursue educational success.

New COVID-19 cases number 649 in Nevada

Nevada Health Response reported Nevada logged 649 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 52,828.

IN SEASON: The time is now to plan your fall and winter annual vegetable garden

It may seem too early to be thinking about our fall and winter garden while we are in the thick of brutal summer temperatures, but cooler weather is just around the corner. By starting seeds indoors now, you can give yourself a head start on the fall and winter garden season.

DPS appoints Dyzak State Fire Marshal Division chief

Nevada Department of Public Safety Director George Togliatti on July 27 appointed Mike Dzyak as chief of the Nevada DPS, State Fire Marshal Division. Dzyak previously served as lieutenant and as acting fire marshal following the retirement of former Chief Bart Chambers.

PUCN releases second concept paper on rate-making

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) has issued a second concept paper in its rulemaking docket investigating alternative rate-making mechanisms for electric utilities, according to a press release.