BLM to Convey 10,400 Acres of Public Lands to the City of Yerington
The Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (NDAA) was signed into law. Section 3009 of the Act titled the “Northern Nevada Land Conveyances” required the BLM to convey to the City of Yerington approximately 10,400 acres of public lands.
An Evaluation of Natural Resources, Unique Values, Land Uses and Stakeholder Input
Nevada Copper, at the request of Lyon County and the City of Yerington, retained RCI in September of 2012 to prepare an evaluation and supporting mapping of the natural resources, unique values, and land uses for the South Pine Grove Hills, Bald Mountain, and East Walker River area. RCI was also tasked with visiting local stakeholders and documenting their input on the area and the potential for a special land management designation, such as wilderness, as part of an on-going federal public lands bill process.
The intent of the report was to provide background and baseline information in order to inform the public process for considering any form of special land use designation. The detailed descriptions found in RCI’s evaluation (completed in November 2012) and supporting mapping provided a foundation from which stakeholders could continue dialogue and make educated decisions. Ultimately, a comprehensive lands bill passed the United States Congress resulting in a conveyance of public lands to the City of Yerington and the designation of the Wovoka Wilderness.
RCI was tasked with completing several key requirements for implementing the Yerington Land Conveyance:
- Biological Technical Report
- Environmental Assessment
- Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment
Biological Technical Report
In coordination with the Bureau of Land Management’s Sierra Front Field Office (BLM), RCI completed a Biological Technical Report. This Report documented the current environment within the Conveyance Area, and identified the presence of any Threatened, Endangered or BLM-listed Sensitive Plant or Animal Species. RCI completed initial data collection, background research, mapping, and field work required to complete the project to BLM’s standards. The Report ultimately became an appendix to the Environmental Assessment (EA) and served as a base of knowledge upon which the EA was developed.
In coordination with the BLM and City of Yerington, RCI completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Yerington Lands Conveyance. This document was required by the BLM to complete the conveyance process. As it was already familiar with the conveyance area, RCI provided a project kick-off presentation to BLM to determine the scope of resources to be analyzed in the EA. RCI then completed an Administrative Draft EA for BLM review, a Draft EA for Public Review, and assisted with a Final EA so that a BLM Decision Record could be issued. RCI also assisted with hosting a required public workshop in Yerington, and kept and completed an Administrative Record of the project as required by BLM. RCI was in constant communication and coordination with both the BLM and the City of Yerington throughout the process. This aspect of the project was completed on time and within budget, despite a very compressed timeframe.
Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment
In coordination with the BLM, RCI completed a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (Phase 1 ESA) to BLM standards. The overall purpose of the Phase I ESA was to provide BLM and the City of Yerington knowledge of the full range of “environmental issues and liabilities, as well as any physical hazards” associated with the land identified for the Yerington Lands Conveyance. RCI completed initial data collection, background research, mapping and field work required to complete the report. The Report was completed and approved by the BLM on time and under budget, despite a demanding timeframe.
Close Working Relationship with the BLM
The close working relationship with the BLM and RCI, and the completion of the Biological Report prior to the Environmental Assessment, allowed achievement of the 180-day deadline as required by the act.