Mining on private land is not a concern, after all, as a mine property owner, it’s his right. No objections there. The question was asked, how do you know if the applicant is doing what he is permitted for? Unfortunately, and to the defense of NDEP, it really is hard to distinguish what is really going on. Can photos be taken? Is this permit activity available to the public? Yes, they said it is public. Anyone can review the permit activity and inspections out of their Carson City offices. So the concern is, is it really just mining, or as one citizen observed, smoke and mirrors? Is Jim Rhodes is known as a miner or a developer? Is an entire city being prepped and graded under the guise of mining? Another concern is that mining and reclamation (again, according to the developer, “development” is “reclamation”) would be permitted without an environmental study. NDEP stated that an environmental study is not required. They said that the BLM did something in 2002 that still counts. Yet, the public noted, so much has changed since 2002. This National Conservation Area has received millions more visitors and Las Vegas has welcomed millions more residents (so more than half of the public ownership wasn’t even here when the first study was done). And we are now ten years later in a 12 year drought. Could it be that the environmental study could be a little bit outdated? One concern raised by an advisory council member was about water and drainages. According to his research, drainages can be completely changed without any study as to the consequences and life giving wells may be adversely affected. Maybe the private landowner doesn’t want to do an evironmental study on his private land, but as public landowners, can we not ask that the environment be considered on our land? On an area that is so sensitive and controversially located in the middle of a National Conservation Area?
We are grateful to NDEP for coming down from Carson City and for being so accommodating. The meeting was informative and professional. We also thank the BLM for coming. No representatives came from Clark County.
Public comments are still open until December 21. If you would like to send your comments to NDEP, you may do so on comment link above. If and when the permit is issued, there will be a 10 day appeals process. It would be great if they decide to issue the permit on private land only, but if they decide to permit him on our (public) land as well, it seems the public should have the right to appeal and/or require an updated study.
BTW, the public land in question, does not concern mining, only reclamation, and is only on pre-disturbed land (the haul road), but when compared with the development, it seems to be located right in the center of the urban concept, or Main Street! Since this is a permit with the Mining and Reclamation Division of the state, maybe the type of reclamation NDEP referred to last night (loosening soils and planting appropriate seed mixes for natural vegetation regrowth) should be defined as appropriate in the permit, not development or pre-development work.