Attorney General Laxalt Issues Statement Confirming the Support of Nevada Counties in Sage-Grouse Lawsuit

October 22, 2015

Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt issued the following statement: Nevada’s counties, including: Churchill, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lincoln, Pershing, Washoe and White Pine have each joined the lawsuit challenging the federal government’s greater sage-grouse land-use plan, and have expressed their support. The statements below reflect their support as well as the need for this litigation.

    “Pershing County is gratified that Attorney General Laxalt has joined Nevada counties in taking a stand against the federal government’s draconian Sage-Grouse Management Plan. The plan, conceived by bureaucrats who live 2,500 miles from Nevada, represents the BLM’s latest failure to coordinate land-use plans with those forced to live with the negative consequences of restrictive measures on public land. Nevada cannot afford to ignore the Federal Government’s disregard of Governor Sandoval’s overtures to negotiate a favorable outcome for our state. Pershing County therefore supports the attorney general’s decision to litigate this issue, and we applaud his leadership and fealty to his legal obligation to act in the best interest of Nevadans. We urge others in positions of influence to protect our great state and its rural counties from the devastating impact BLM’s decisions will inflict on economic development, environmental stability and our cultural heritage.”

      "Humboldt County appeals to Governor Sandoval to join the fight against the federal government’s overreach in their BLM and Forest Service Land Use Plan Amendments, as these new plans, if implemented, will do nothing to enhance the greater sage-grouse populations, habitat and general well-being, said David Mendiola, County Administrator of Humboldt County.” In the Governor’s Consistency Review, he clearly stated the facts regarding the federal government’s disregard for science collected on the ground and the state's current Sage-grouse Management plans. The nine counties, private litigants and the Lieutenant Governor would be ill served if the governor did not stand next to his constituents in this battle to keep our public lands available to the very people he serves.

        The cost, to this point, will be borne primarily by the current litigants, and the potential loss of economic vitality to Humboldt County and our sister counties is immeasurable!"

          “Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s move to join Eureka and many other Northern Nevada counties in challenging the BLM and U.S. Forest Service Sage-grouse Management Plan sends a strong signal that this massive, federal land grab has devastating implications for Nevada,” said Senator Pete Goicoechea. “Governor Sandoval’s Consistency Review letter and formal appeal provide a strong platform for the attorney general to fight against the land use prohibitions and restrictions in the federal plan which substantially interfere with the state’s and Nevada counties’ Sage-grouse Conservation Plans. The state and county plans focus on habitat conservation, ensure long-term socioeconomic stability to preserve our way of life, and achieve the proper balance between the national interest and state and local interests. The federal plan upsets this balance, does not provide optimal sage-grouse conservation, and will cause widespread economic harm.”

            “The sage grouse issue has the potential to decimate the way of life in rural communities by restricting access to the public’s lands for recreation or businesses like mining, agriculture and hunting,” said Senator James Settelmeyer. “The current trend by federal regulators needs to be checked by sound scientific data. I support the attorney general in doing just that.”

              “The Western states support land management that is not at the expense of Nevada’s economic development or culture,” said Senator Don Gustavson. “The federal plan does not take our state’s socioeconomic needs into account, and will be detrimental to Nevada’s development. I applaud the attorney general’s understanding of our rural culture, and support his efforts in this lawsuit.”

                “I appreciate the attorney general’s challenge to the federal conservation plan, which will have a tremendous effect on Nevada’s cultural landscape and economy,” said Assemblyman John Ellison. “Nevada’s plan strikes a balance between conservation efforts and economic considerations, and would offer this state much-needed stability.”

                  “The federal government’s top-down land management plan will have a significant impact on the western states, especially Nevada,” said Assemblyman Jim Wheeler. “I am grateful to the attorney general and his office for acting in the best interest of this state and its rural culture.”

                    “The federal government’s disregard for Nevada’s proposed state conservation plan will devastate our state’s economy,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen. “Nevada’s plan was carefully considered and backed by scientific data, and should have been taken seriously by the federal government. I commend the attorney general for taking a stand and protecting this state’s rights and best interests.”

                      “I want to thank Attorney General Laxalt for joining this litigation challenging the BLM and U.S. Forest Service Sage grouse Land Management Plan,” said Washoe County Commissioner Jeanne Herman. “This Plan has already interfered with Washoe County’s ability to acquire an 80-acre parcel in the North Valleys needed for a new middle school, as well as a 40-acre parcel in Sparks identified for a veterans’ cemetery. BLM’s maps incorrectly show these parcels as sage-grouse habitat even though county maps clearly indicate they are not habitat and are suitable for acquisition and development. Future conflicts are inevitable because public lands surround Reno-Sparks suburban areas. The county must be able to acquire public lands to support future community development objectives.”

                        “Attorney General Laxalt’s involvement with this litigation makes a bold statement that the BLM and U.S. Forest Service Sage-grouse Management Plan is wrong for Nevada,” said Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl. “As ground zero for the Plan’s draconian land use restrictions and withdrawals, Elko County applauds Attorney General Laxalt’s decision to join this litigation and help us stop the agencies from placing over two million acres in Elko County off-limits to mining and other uses. The Plan has already cost Elko County $500 million from a wind energy project prohibited from being developed, and will cost at least $31 million annually in lost agricultural productivity.”

                          “We are in full support of Attorney General Adam Laxalt's lawsuit in opposition to the federal government's latest overreach into state affairs,” said Nevada Petroleum Marketers Association Executive Director Peter Krueger. “The BLM's new land use plans will close down all mining activity in Nevada, hurting not only the residents but all of the mining companies. Our industry is important to Nevada's economic well-being and employment.”

                            “The Nevada Association of Counties appreciates Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s decision to join the Counties’ lawsuit to challenge the BLM and U.S. Forest Service Sage-grouse Land Management Plan,” said the Nevada Association of Counties. “This Plan is unprecedented in its scope and is impactful, as it is the first Land Management Plan to use multiple-use statutes to protect a single species to the exclusion of other land uses. The Plan imposes unworkable travel restrictions and buffer zones that interfere with Counties’ police powers and their abilities to provide for public health and safety, as well as recreation, ranching, renewable energy and mining on which these counties rely for funding and employment. Further, the Plan withdraws 2.8 million acres from mining and other uses upon which many county economies depend. We applaud the attorney general for his leadership in helping us protest the federal government’s approach to managing sage grouse habitat--an approach that is not based on best available science, ignores local habitat conservation and land use plans, and fails to include effective measures to reduce the primary threats to sage-grouse habitat.”

                              “Western Exploration, LLC is very pleased that Attorney General Adam Laxalt is helping us challenge the BLM and U.S. Forest Service Sage-grouse Land Management Plan,” said the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation. “This Plan threatens to destroy our Gravel Creek Project in Elko County, and the future of our company because our mining claims are in a withdrawal area. Western Exploration’s Gravel Creek Project is an exciting new discovery of a gold deposit that shows real promise to become a viable mining project. The Plan puts at risk our $32 million investment in this project and the many jobs and state and local economic benefits that would result from future development of a mine. We already have many sage-grouse habitat protection measures in place that make development of this project and sage-grouse conservation mutually compatible objectives, proving that the federal land withdrawal is an extreme measure that is not necessary to protect sage-grouse.”

                                “We thank Attorney General Laxalt for joining the lawsuit to help us oppose the BLM and U.S. Forest Service Sage-Grouse Land Management Plan,” said Ninety-Six Ranch Manager Fred Stewart. This Plan will effectively put us, and others like us, out of business. It is truly unfortunate that the agencies chose to ignore the strengths of the Nevada Sage-grouse Conservation Plan and Governor Sandoval’s enormous efforts to work with them. As Nevada’s only sesquicentennial ranch owned and operated by one family, we know best how to care for our land and have a demonstrated track record of successfully protecting the sage-grouse habitat. However, we must challenge the federal
                                Plan, which is effectively a massive federal land grab that substantially interferes with our ranching operation, will increase the buildup of rangeland fuels and result in habitat destruction due to wildfires, and threatens our family’s way of life.”

                                  “Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s move to join Nevada Counties and industry in challenging the BLM and U.S. Forest Service Sage-grouse Management Plan sends a strong signal that this massive, federal land grab has devastating implications for Nevada,” said the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association. “Throughout the EIS process, the state of Nevada continued to develop a strong plan that will conserve sage grouse habitat and protect Nevada’s economic base. This state plan along with other proven and scientifically grounded conservation efforts has been largely dismissed by the federal government. Nevada Cattlemen’s Association supports the state and local plans, and stands behind the attorney general and the state of Nevada challenging the BLM and U.S. Forest Service Sage-grouse Management Plan. The environmental and economic damage that will result due to implementation of the final Land Use Plan Amendments will prove disastrous to the sage-grouse and rural Nevada.”