Director’s update, April 2008

Allen BiaggiNewsletter for DCNR employees

Good afternoon to everyone in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. In my almost four years as the Department’s Director, I have come to appreciate the extent and diversity of our natural resource mission.

We have responsibilities for the protection of our land, air and water, the operation of state parks, fire suppression and rehabilitation, maintaining data on endangered species, allocation of water resources and the management of our state lands, just to name a few.

While working in our respective programs we may not see the big picture and the important role each of us plays in protecting and improving Nevada’s natural resources.

I have struggled to identify a way to reach out to our 950 employees statewide to let you know the important issues impacting the Department and to share examples of the great work of your fellow employees. This is the first of what I hope will be monthly e-mail to inform you of the Department’s many activities.

I hope you find this helpful, and I am interested in your feedback. Please e-mail me your thoughts on this update and how we can make it more useful to you.

Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of Nevada’s natural resources.

Allen Biaggi
Director

New site

We recently redesigned the DCNR Web site and launched it earlier this week. We hope you like the new look and information is easy to find. The goal for the site is to essentially serve as a portal to the Department’s divisions as well as provide department-wide news and a master calendar of events, hearings and meetings.

The budget

As everyone knows, state revenues are down in all categories (sales tax, gaming revenues, real estate, etc.). Late last year Governor Jim Gibbons directed 4.5% reductions in the budgets of general fund programs. I am very proud of the way the Department’s division administrators carefully examined budgets to maintain levels of public service while protecting the Department’s most valuable assets—you, our employees.

Thankfully, holding positions vacant, deferring some projects and reducing spending, we avoided layoffs and maintained our core programs.

We are not out of the woods yet. Revenues continue to be down and the deficit has grown to nearly $900 million. I have asked each administrator to monitor their budgets carefully, eliminate non-essential expenditures and be prepared for the possibility of further reductions.

Fire Commission completes draft report

Work is being completed with the Bi-State Blue Ribbon Fire Commission. The Commission was created by Governors Gibbons and Schwarzenegger in the wake of the Angora Fire at Lake Tahoe last June to examine the causes of the fire and what steps need to be taken to lessen the likelihood of another catastrophic event at the lake. You may read the Commission’s draft report at http://resources.ca.gov/TahoeFireCommission/downloads/comm_rpt_draft03-24_2.pdf.

TRPA update

On a related topic, I sit on the governing board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency which oversees planning, development and environmental improvement activities in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The agency is working on two major planning efforts at this time. The first is a Shorezone Plan, which has been more than 20 years in the making and will address piers and buoys in the lake as well as the emerging issue of invasive, non-native plants and animals. The second is an updated regional plan which will guide planning, development and redevelopment in the basin for the next two decades. Read more on the activities of the TRPA at http://www.trpa.org/.

State Parks employees honored

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and Lyon Sheriff’s Employees Association recently honored the men and women who went above and beyond the call of duty to rescue and help victims of the Fernley flood, when the Truckee Carson Irrigation District’s canal breached in the early morning hours of Jan. 5. The Meritorious Service Award was handed out to two LCSO Deputies, Travis Clarke and Matt Roman, and two Nevada State Parks Rangers, Mark Fox and Rob Holley. (Source: Mason Valley News).

NDF first responders personally impacted by the earthquake in Wells

Also deserving of kudos are the Nevada Division of Forestry personnel who went above and beyond the call of duty during the recent earthquake in Wells. A number of them were personally impacted by this disaster and still provided emergency response services in the community. During the winter, when NDF crews from the Wells Conservation Camp are snowed out of their regularly scheduled projects, they provide snow removal and wood cutting services to the senior citizens in Wells. After the earthquake, the crew supervisors used their snow removal and wood cutting list to check on the senior citizen’s safety, welfare and related needs.

Fire season begins to heat up

Technically, fire season hasn’t begun, but our State Forester Pete Anderson recently informed me the 1400-acre fire near Bishop, Calif. was … started by campers. For information on how you can be proactive this fire season, please visit Living With Fire.

Nevada trails site launched

A gateway to Nevada’s trails has been created. A new Web site sure to appeal to Nevada residents and tourists alike offers a central location for the best and most comprehensive information about Nevada’s recreational trails. With support from State Parks, this site was created and is located at http://nvtrailmaps.com/index.php.

Mercury regulations are working

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection recently shut down the ore roasters at Jerritt Canyon Mine north of Elko. The shutdown is due to the company’s failure to fully comply with two earlier orders.

NDF responds to the Ely Times

Twice now the Ely Times has reported on developments between White Pine County and the Nevada Division of Forestry. Both times, Forestry’s perspective was not reported. Here are our responses: first, in December, and second, in March.

New administrators

The Department is fortunate to have such outstanding talent within its ranks that I was able to name the replacements for two division heads.

Jim Lawrence, deputy administrator for the Division of State Lands, will become the administrator of State Lands and acting administrator of Conservation Districts beginning July 1, 2008. He will succeed Pam Wilcox, one of the longest-serving administrators in Nevada state government, who started with the state as administrator of the Division of Conservation Districts in April 1980. Jim has been with State Lands for nine years. He holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Oregon, and dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Jennifer Newmark is the new administrator for the Natural Heritage Program. She succeeded Glenn Clemmer, head of the state’s Natural Heritage Program since April 1992. Jennifer has been a biologist with Natural Heritage since 1999, serving most recently as a supervising biologist. She received her master’s degree in biology from Boston University and her bachelor of science in conservation biology from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Pam and Glenn have been tremendous assets to the Department and the entire state. We are sad to see them go and are extremely grateful for their public service; however, most importantly, we wish each of them all the best in their retirements.

Sign up

You may sign up to receive the Department’s news as it happens. Our news is updated almost daily at dcnrnews.wordpress.com. You may also subscribe to receive the news by email. A huge thanks to Bob Conrad, communications officer for the Director’s Office, for keeping track of the news and making it available online.

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