Author: Thomas Mitchell

Officials confident fracking won’t contaminate land

Recently the Nevada Division of Minerals held a series of public hearings across the state to obtain comments on its new rules regulating hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, used in oil and natural gas wells. At the hearings Division of Minerals Administrator Rich Perry explained how Nevada’s 20-page revised rules will require groundwater testing before and after drilling, pressure testing of equipment, notifications to landowners before fracking begins and abiding by strict engineering standards. Public comments ranged from the rationally cautious to the histrionic. “We trusted the Bureau of Land Management to protect and preserve our public land so...

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Federal agencies using drought to deter ranchers

There is no doubt the lingering drought is devastating the cattle business across Nevada, but some ranchers say the problem is being exacerbated by inflexible federal land agencies. Though the Nevada drought monitor shows 100 percent of the state under some level of drought, unchanged from a year ago, rainfall in specific locales across central Nevada have been near normal for the first months of this year. “It is my perception they are using the drought to kick ranchers off the BLM (Bureau of Land Management),” said John Colby of the Santa Fe and Ferguson Ranch near Eureka. “Out...

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New book highlights mustang woes

There is a uniquely Western thrill in witnessing a herd of wild mustangs galloping across a sagebrush-dotted hillside. There is a concomitant melancholy to seeing acres of small corrals stretching across Palomino Valley near Reno, each filled with milling mustangs. These are the shaggy, skinny, sway-backed, pied, dappled and spotted unadoptables imprisoned  by the Bureau of Land Management for the crime of overbreeding in the wild. You get a sense of this contrast in the pages of rancher H. Alan Day’s new book, “The Horse Lover: A Cowboy’s Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs,” written with Lynn Wiese Sneyd....

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Ravens becoming threat to sage grouse population

Never are the agencies of the federal government more efficient, more capable than when they are working at diametric cross purposes — canceling out one objective with another. Agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management, which are under the Interior Department, have been doubling down on efforts to save the greater sage grouse habitat across 11 Western states, including Nevada, by shutting down ranching, farming, mining and oil and gas exploration. At the same time the Interior Department has a policy of encouraging and expediting development of renewable energy production on...

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Rural counties must protect water

Rural Nevada counties should be careful with whom they form alliances. This past week two federal lawsuits were filed with the same intended purpose and with many of the same arguments proffered — trying to reverse the Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to grant right of way for 300 miles of pipeline to allow Las Vegas to tap groundwater from eastern Nevada valleys. The two suits are expected to be combined at some point. In a parallel case, a state judge’s decision blocking the project is on appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. One 32-page...

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