LETTERS: Handing part of refuge to Air Force bad for wildlife

Refuge land transfer

To the editor:

The Desert National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Nevada is the largest refuge in the lower 48 states, encompassing six major mountain ranges and 1.5 million acres in Nevada. The refuge provides critical habitat toward the long-term viability and sustainability of desert bighorn, as well as the desert tortoise and an extensive list of birds, mammals, reptiles and plants. For decades, the Nevada Test and Training Range and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have worked cooperatively on refuge management and military activities.

The House National Defense Authorization Act language transfers primary jurisdiction of a major portion of the refuge to the Air Force. The Fish & Wildlife Service would remain responsible for managing hunting, although just how that would occur is not addressed in the bill. The language would overturn the current management of the refuge. Further, implementation of other federal laws, policies and regulations would be problematic and seemingly contradictory to several important laws (e.g. the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act). The Sheep, Spotted and Pintwater ranges are included in the area the NDAA would transfer from the National Test and Training Range to the Air Force.

There are 18 water developments in these ranges that the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn has constructed over its 51-year existence, in conjunction with the Fish & Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. These water developments provide about 110,000 gallons of critical water to wildlife annually, including a population of approximately 1,000 desert bighorn sheep. The authorization act language offers no provisions as to how these water developments will be perpetuated through annual aerial maintenance flights currently in place, or how new water developments will be approved or installed.

Additionally, the law‘€™s language does not provide for how wildlife or habitat will be managed, either by the Fish & Wildlife Service, the refuge or the Department of Wildlife. The House NDAA language is woefully deficient, and the big loser is Nevada wildlife. The Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn is opposed to the House Defense Authorization Act and the transfer of critical wildlife and habitat from the Nevada Test and Training Range to the Air Force. We urge the Senate and House Conference Committee to strike this language from the NDAA, or approve the Senate version with the NDAA language excluded. We urge our members, fellow conservationists, bighorn sheep advocates and concerned citizens to do the same.

BRETT K. JEFFERSON

LAS VEGAS

The writer is president of the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn.

HOA foreclosures

To the editor:

Keith Lynam‘s article on homeowners associations is so full of soot it obfuscates reality (“€œRealtor group says HOA foreclosures unfair,”€ June 28 Review-Journal). Current law is just and clear as to the process an HOA or anyone must follow when foreclosing a property. HOAs have a super priority lien because, unlike a bank or other mortgage holder, the property and its current owner have a lifetime maintenance support contract with the association. If the obligation isn’€™t met, the maintenance cost allocation then falls to everyone else in the community.

If the mortgage holder were made responsible for dues collection and payment, then the foreclosure problem would be lessened significantly. Furthermore, this collection problem could be also be reduced if in 2017, the Nevada Legislature extended the maximum number of months that delinquent dues may be collected, from nine months to something more realistic, like two years. This would cut down on the need for HOAs to pull the foreclosure trigger too quickly.

Better yet, if the Legislature gave HOAs the same foreclosure timeline and ability now available to the Clark County treasurer, then not only would delinquent payments be assured, but HOA collection and legal costs would be far less expensive. A reality check says that those who stand to lose income as a result of these proposed changes — management companies, collection companies and attorneys — will all work to lobby the proposals into oblivion.

There are 3,000 HOAs in Nevada, yet they have no truly dedicated lobby to support all of their common interests. It’€™s time our interests stopped flying under the legislative radar.

RICHARD RYCHTARIK

LAS VEGAS

The writer is treasurer of Whisper Creek Homeowners Association.

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