Douglas County, NV: Plan proposes buffer zone - proponents claim important because of pending "Sustainable Growth Initiative" and trails plan

[Textbook Smart Growth/Sustainable Development/Agenda 21: Create conflict, form break-out groups and "solve" with "Facilitated Consensus Process" for more government, less property rights.]

by Regina Purcell, Record-Courier Staff Writer

Douglas County, Nevada - 1/25/03 - A "Central Park" with more acreage than its namesake in New York City is being proposed as a buffer zone to preserve open space.

The limited use buffer zone called the "future Central Park" will also reduce conflicts among public land users and property owners and protect the Pine Nut Mountain area from creeping development.

"It's a win-win situation," said Robert Ballou, who served on the Pine Nut Planning Partners committee that outlined a plan for the Bureau of Land Management. "It doesn't conflict with anybody."

The BLM is reviewing input from the planning partners and will release a draft management plan for the area in June.

Last summer, the committee spent nearly 1,900 hours preparing its report for inclusion in the BLM's revised management plan for the 362,000-acre Pine Nut Mountain Planning Area.

The planning partners,included off-highway vehicle users, property owners, equestrians, hikers and others to "Protect, preserve and respect the Pine Nut Mountains' diverse uses and environment with thoughtful and creative planning," Ballou said.

The group started working on the project in 2001, and in March last year, split into six different study groups.

The North Douglas County group addressed, at weekly meetings, land use, a buffer zone, land disposal, illegal dumping, public access and funding options for the planning area.

Ballou owns property that abuts the area and said the group wanted to find a compromise for motorized and non-motorized users through the buffer zone that is proposed to be 300- to 1,000 meters wide along the western edge of Carson Valley.

That zone will allow for uses such as hiking, horseback riding, jogging, nature viewing and perhaps a golf course.

Their proposal bans hunting, shooting, mining, grazing, camping, special events and motorized use, except for access to the interior of the Pine Nuts, in that buffer zone.

"We have had no resistance at all from the BLM," Ballou said.

He said the proposal ties in with the county's Master Plan and the Comprehensive Trails Plan.

The concern is that many parcels in the Pine Nut Planning Area are owned by Washoe Indian allotments.

"When push comes to shove, and (developers) offer really big checks to families, they aren't going to be able to resist," Ballou said.

He foresees East Valley Road becoming a central valley road in 20 years and said Douglas County should work to preserve that land in order to control growth.

Because it is located within a sovereign nation, Washoe property is not subject to local regulations governing land use.

"That is very developable land," said Ballou.

It will take a community effort to preserve what is left.

Residents "have to protect their right to use" public lands, he said. "and they can adopt areas (to maintain) like they do a highway."

Ballou said the county will also have to help manage the buffer zone and hire enforcement officers, and install portable facilities and build trails.

"There is already a pair of trails in the buffer zone, a hard surface and soft surface," Ballou said.

During workshops for the county's Comprehensive Trails Plan, Ballou's group's proposal was used by the BLM as an example of good planning.

"The plan offers a wonderful opportunity for owners who don't want trails in their backyard, but with designated accesses to get to public lands," Ballou said.

He said getting the buffer zone in place is important, especially with the pending Sustainable Growth Initiative and the trails plan -both controversial issues.

"People need to take their heads out of the sand," said Ballou. "Twenty years ago, East Valley Road didn't exist and development above Johnson Lane wasn't there.

"The growth is not going to stop, but the plan goes beyond the end of our nose. These days it is everything right now. Politicians only think as far as election cycles and it is up to us to make these decisions now."


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