Newlands Project Resource Management Plan
The Bureau of Reclamation has made available for public review and comment the Draft Resource Management Plan /Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft RMP/EIS) for the Newlands Project. This Draft RMP/EIS provides a range of alternatives for managing Reclamation-administered lands in the Newlands Project planning area, which is located in the west-central Nevada counties of Washoe, Storey, Lyon, and Churchill. The planning area encompasses approximately 442,000 acres surrounding the Newlands Project facilities and is composed of all Reclamation-administered lands, including water bodies, managed as part of the Newlands Project.
The Newlands Project lands have been administered to date in accordance with applicable rules, regulations, policies, directives, and standards. The purpose of the Newlands Project RMP is to provide a single, comprehensive land use plan that will guide contemporary resource and recreation needs of the federal lands administered by Reclamation in the planning area. The RMP will help support the Newland Project’s authorized purposes: irrigation, municipal and industrial water supply, recreation, water quality, support of fish and wildlife, and any other purposes recognized as beneficial under the laws of Nevada. The water resource itself and the facilities and infrastructure used to transport and store water are excluded from this Draft RMP/EIS.
Goals and Objectives of Public Participation and Outreach Plan
This Draft RMP/EIS addresses the interrelationships among the various resources in the Newlands Project planning area and provides management options to balance resource management between Reclamation’s mission and authority and the needs of the public to use these lands. Reclamation’s authority to prepare the RMP is outlined in the Reclamation Recreation Management Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-575, Title 28 (16 U.S.C. § 460l-31)), as amended.
The purposes of the Newlands Project RMP are as follows:
- Provide a framework to ensure Reclamation plans and activities comply with all appropriate federal, state, and local laws, rules, regulations, and policies;
- Provide for the protection and management of natural and cultural resources and public health and safety;
- Provide for non-water based recreation management and development and other uses consistent with contemporary and professional resource management and protection theories, concepts, and practices; and
- Be consistent with Reclamation’s fiscal goals and objectives.
The RMP is needed to achieve the purposes listed above.
Three management alternatives were developed to address the major planning issues.
Alternative A (No Action—Continue Current Management)
Under Alternative A, the current levels, methods and mix of multiple use management of Reclamation-administered lands in the Newlands Project planning area would continue, and resource values would generally receive attention at present levels.
The issuance of grazing leases, including the associated terms and conditions, would be brought into compliance with Reclamation’s current directives and standards.
Alternative B (Agency Preferred)
Under Alternative B, certain withdrawn lands would be identified for relinquishment and other lands for disposal. This alternative generally allows for more uses and active resource management than under Alternative C but less than under Alternative A.
Alternative C (Conservation)
Under Alternative C, all grazing on Reclamation-administered lands would be phased out and eliminated within two years. Rangeland improvements would be removed where appropriate and where the improvements are no longer needed. Off-road vehicle use would be completely prohibited on Reclamation-administered lands.
Under both Alternatives A and B, a Grazing Management Plan (GMP) will be completed and implemented. The new GMP will bring the grazing program into compliance with Reclamation Manual Directives and Standards and manage the program using rangeland health standards. These changes will result in increased costs to grazing permittees. Additionally, some pastures will be closed permanently or temporarily due to poor rangeland health standards, lack of use, or the cost of administering the pasture.
The draft review period concluded July 29, 2013. Reclamation has analyzed the comments received and made adjustments to the Draft RMP where warranted. Currently the proposed RMP and Final EIS are being prepared. It is anticipated that a Record of Decision will be issued sometime around mid-year 2014
In response to the public comments, the BLM and Reclamation met and determined that BLM will begin to administer grazing on those lands that are to be relinquished to BLM as a result of the RMP.