November 2008 Director’s update

[NOTE: This was sent to DCNR employees today.]

Good afternoon to everyone in DCNR.

The following is my November report on activities within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Budget update

As you have undoubtedly seen on television or in the newspapers, state tax revenues continue to decline and are not meeting revised expectations. The Governor and legislative leadership are meeting to try to find solutions. Kay and I have also been meeting with the division administrators on a regular basis in an attempt to address these new shortfalls. To date, we have received no firm direction on further reductions for fiscal year 2009 or the biennial budget of FY 2010 and 2011. We will continue to keep you informed as we receive new information from the Executive Budget Office.

Nevada wetlands prioritized in new report

A new report released last month identifies Nevada’s wetlands and ranks them in order of priority based on conservation need. The Nevada Natural Heritage Program, a division within our department, released the report to inform land and natural resource managers about priority wetlands, their locations, rank and the factors that determine priority status.

Jennifer Newmark, Administrator of the Natural Heritage program has indicated that this report represents the first ever attempt at comprehensive prioritizing of the state’s wetland resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates Nevada wetland losses amounted to 52 percent from 1780 through 1980. Read the report here.

Legislators tour Tahoe EIP work

The Division of State Lands’ multi-agency Tahoe Resource Team, which oversees natural resource projects for Nevada’s side of the Lake Tahoe Basin, recently hosted a tour of Environmental Improvement Program (EIP) projects for Nevada legislators, federal agency personnel and staff members of the TRPA. The group toured the Angora area to see its fire recovery efforts and projects such as the Heavenly Creek fuels reduction project. This project used a low-impact harvester to treat fuels in stream zone environments.

The Tahoe Resource Team consists of members from the Nevada Division of State Lands, Division of Forestry, Department of Wildlife and Division of State Parks.

Nevada Division of Forestry Air Operations helicopters

Forestry helicopters

One of the outstanding resources of this department is its aviation operations within the Division of Forestry. NDF now has three operational helicopters that can be used for firefighting, search and rescue and emergency response. In fact, just last week NDF’s aviation operations were instrumental in locating a lost hiker above Wally’s Hot Springs in Douglas County. This is a photo of the helicopters in their hanger in Minden.

Winter driving and safety tips

As a natural resource agency we are often in the field in remote locations throughout Nevada. We should never take Nevada’s extreme climate for granted. When out in the field safety is of prime importance, especially on Nevada’s roadways in the winter. The Nevada Department of Transportation has created a helpful list of winter driving tips. I encourage you to read it and to drive safely this winter season.

Quagga mussels update

Quagga mussels were brought to the United States from their natural habitat in the Ukraine aboard ships which portaged in the Great Lakes. Until a few years ago their extent was confined east of the 100th meridian in the U.S., which essentially bisects the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. A few years ago Quagga were spotted in Lake Mead. Since this initial discovery the mussels have been transported throughout the Colorado River system impacting water intakes and navigation. Many people believed the Quagga could not survive in the cold, high altitude and relatively nutrient free waters of Lake Tahoe. Those ideas were dispelled when Quagga were found to be thriving in Lake Granby in Colorado, a lake with conditions not unlike Tahoe.

There has been a concerted effort to confine the Quaggas to the Colorado River. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Board of Directors recently passed aggressive new rules regarding boat launching at Lake Tahoe. The Nevada Division of State Parks has been fully engaged in this effort since this agency operates two of the most popular launch facilities on the east shore of the lake at Sand Harbor and Cave Rock. Many thanks to the administration and employees of State Parks who have recognized the Quagga threat to Lake Tahoe. These employees have identified cost effective and innovative ways of meeting the TRPA mandates, while still addressing the needs of the recreational boating community.

We have also been involved in an effort to engage all of the western states on this issue and leverage our resources to address the spread of quagga and other invasive aquatic species on a regional level.

State Forester to co-lead Western Forestry Leadership Coalition

Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson was selected this month to serve as co-leader of the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition (WFLC), an organization that promotes science-based forest management. He believes the WFLC is a critically important partnership, one that acknowledges our issues across boundaries and landscapes.

Pete also leads the Council of Western State Foresters (CWSF). Established in 1988, the Council of Western State Foresters is a nonpartisan organization of state, territorial and commonwealth foresters of the western U.S. and Pacific Islands. The CWSF works closely with the WFLC, which has its origins in the U.S. Forest Service State and Private Forestry programs that provide technical and financial assistance to landowners and resource managers to help sustain the nation’s private and public forests and protect communities and the environment from devastating wildland fires.

Have a great November and a very happy Thanksgiving.

Allen Biaggi
Director

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