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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
January 16, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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January 16, 1997

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PahrumpValley Gazette, Thursday, January 16, 1997 21 Country Fun Corral Fun for the entire family New back to school hours Go-I(arts - Miniature Golf ~ Arcade and free food, game time. (702) 727-5554 Bummer's- Karaoke by Norm Wednesdays 8 p.m.- ? Happy hour 4p.m. - 5 p.m. daily. Live music onTuesday, Fridays and Satmdays 8 p.m.- ? (702) 727-1839 CoramonGroundsC4e, 1031E.CalvadaBlvd. Freeenletlainment. Friday, January 17,7:30 p.m. - our calendar for daily specials. (702)727-52I 1 Breakfast 7 dav s, 7-11am Wed,- Spaghetti $2, is Weeken ool Water'  Daily Specials as well as Super Dinner Specials Wed, thru Sun, 727-7300 Thursday- Tacos 501 Thursday- $1 P1argaritas 3pro till ? "Karaoke ' Turnipseed to decide on water --Monica J. Schwalbach-- This week the State of Nevada initiated hearings to determine who should have the rights to use water in south Monitor Valley, in central Nevada. This is the first water adjudication to be held in the State in many years. A primary issue is whether land management agencies will be granted the right to manage water for multiple purposes on public lands and in wilderness areas. The U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and several private individuals are asserting claims to the water. Western States established water laws in the early 1900's to allocate the use of water - a rare and precious resource then as today. Even earlier, federal laws were enacted to protect public lands from overuse and degradation (e.g. the Organic Act of 1897 which established the national forest reserves to protect watersheds). Today, a century after enactment of many of these laws, society's values and understanding of the importance of water has changed considerably. The challenge for the State is to integrate contemporary values with antiquated laws; even more challenging is making decisions about water allocation that address the interests of future generations of Nevada's citizenry. Michael Turnipseed, the State Engineer, who is presiding over the hearing, will decide whether to: * allocate water rights for the purposes of wilderness uses and values (including recreation, aesthetics, biodiversity, natural streamflows and other ecosystem processes); * allocate water for the purpose of maintaining healthy watersheds and stream conditions; * allocate water for livestock to the livestock owner or the land owner upon whose land the livestock drink and graze; and * recognize the needs of wildlife and fish for water and healthy ecosystems. Some of these questions will be easier to answer than others, because laws have been enacted over the years that help define society's interests and contribute to the information upon which Mr. Tumipseed will base his decisions. The Nevada Wilderness Act of 1989, for example, expressly states that all unappropriated waters will be placed in reserve for the purposes of wilderness uses and values. Table Mountain Wilderness and Alta Toquima Wilderness, both part of the adjudication, are included under the provisions of this Act. The Organic Act of 1897 specified the purposes of national forest reserves as protection of the forests, securing favorable conditions of water flow, and timber production. The Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1969, a supplement to the Organic Act, acknowledges society's interest in managing National Forests for the many benefits and values they provide, including outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish purposes. The State of Nevada enacted statutes that identify "beneficial uses" of water, and it is people who put water to these beneficial uses that the State has historically given water rights to. These uses include livestock watering, irrigation, mineral developments, municipal uses and domestic purposes. In 1988 the State added fish and wildlife as beneficial users of water. The State has not yet acknowledged wilderness or healthy watersheds as beneficial uses of water in Nevada. What makes the South Monitor Valley Adjudication so interesting is that the time and place has come for the State to make a decision about the fate of its water and prioritize its disparate uses. Not an easy task considering the changing values of society today. The U.S. Forest Service is asserting claims for wilderness, watershed protection, healthy stream conditions, wildlife, and other multiple uses, including livestock watering. Forest Service managers believe the public is interested in protection these many values. So in what ways is water important to us that Mr. Tumipseed should give consideration to? First, people value wilderness for the majestic, unspoiled settings that it provides - a link to our past, a place to view the splendor of free-flowing mountain streams, a home for many of Nevada's unique plants and animals, and a source of water that recharges our aquifers - all of which are dependent on a healthy ecosystem, of which water is an integral component. Second, we as a society have learned that the health of our watersheds is critical to our own health. Protection of watersheds may have been taken for granted in the early 1900's, but the clear link between clean water and quality of life has been demonstrated across our country and the globe many times over the century. Protection of watersheds includes maintenance of the health of ecosystems which comprise those watersheds. Streamside vegetation, in particular, plays a major role in flood control and containment of sediments, and protects downstream residents. Streamside vegetation, in turn, is largely influenced by how people and animals use the landscape. Healthy ecosystems maintain a diversity of species that contribute to pollination, pest control, and other natural benefits upon which we depend. Third, people care about wildlife. Many of us care about wildlife more for their aesthetic and intrinsic values then for the values wildlife contribute to keeping our world healthy (but that's mostly a matter of our lack of understanding about how important wildlife is to our health). Nonetheless, the important thing is that the people of Nevada do believe it is important to keep water in streams so that our fish have a place to live and our deer, birds, a nd butterflies have a place to drink. Fourth, and finally, people care about people's livelihoods. We care about the ranchers who want to maintain the heritage of rural Nevada by perpetuating the tradition of livestock grazing on public lands. We believe that they are as much a part of Nevada as the urban residents who value rural Nevada for the vast open spaces and awesome backcountry that we share. What is different today than in 1900, though, is that people now appreciate the vast rural Nevada landscapes, our public lands, for the variety of benefits that they provide - not for a single dominant use of livestock grazing. We want to see livestock not as the only "beneficial use" of our public lands, but as one of many uses - one component of the diverse, healthy, and beautiful State we call home. To share your views regarding water, write to: R. Michael Tumipseed, P.E., State Engineer Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Division of Water Resources 123 W. Nye Lane, Room 246 Carson City, Nevada 89710