Sand Mountain Trail System Nears Reality


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Jerry Seaver
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Sand Mountain Trail System Nears Reality

Post by Jerry Seaver » Wed Sep 12, 2007 4:05 pm

September 8, 2007, 12:30 PM

Sand Mountain Trail System Nears Reality

The arduous task of installing more than 30 miles of trail markers at the Sand Mountain Recreation Area could begin as early as next month, County Manager Brad Goetsch said Friday.

The Churchill County Commission voted Thursday to allow Goetsch to solicit bids for the project which would install galvanized steel posts at 20-foot intervals along the travel route and boundary of Sand Mountain.

The trail system is a component of the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly Conservation Plan which seeks to halt destruction of the butterfly’s host plant, the Kearney buckwheat, due to off-highway vehicle use.

The project’s price tag comes in at $992,000, according to a funding agreement approved by the commission in February. Of that, Churchill County will pay just 25.4 percent, or $252,000, in matching funds. The bulk of the money will come from the Nevada Division of State Lands through the Question 1 program.
Goetsch said the bid is fairly pointedly drawn-out and very specific.

“There’s only half a dozen companies in the nation that have the capability to meet the specifications,” Goetsch said. “We’re hoping to receive three.”

Bids must be received by the county manager by Sept. 28.

Before the trail markers can be placed, though, an extensive ethnographic review of the recreation area must be started. An ethnographic review will inventory and review all the archaeological and historic resources in the area.

“It’s a federal law,” Goetsch said. “On any federal lands where construction or disturbance of an area that has any potential of having any historic or cultural items, this is a requirement.”

He said it’s “just the right thing to do” because it’s known the Paiute-Shoshone Native American people have been active in the area for recorded history.

The Sand Springs Pony Express Station lies just outside the boundary of the recreation area, evidence that pioneers have been through the area, Goetsch said.
The Virginia City branch of Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc. submitted a cost estimate for the cultural review, which came in at $76,000. Goetsch told commissioners it was important to have contractors with experience in the western Great Basin, and Far Western is familiar with the recreation issues surrounding Sand Mountain. Their proposal was also accepted by the commission at Thursday’s meeting.

If any ancient or historic artifacts are discovered they will be logged, photographed, mapped, and potentially removed to the possession of a museum or the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe.

Members from the tribe have already been visiting with officials from the Bureau of Land Management, the agency which manages the area, and representatives from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The cultural review must be completed in an area before the trail markers can be installed, Goetsch said.

“They’ve told us they think they can finish the cultural surveys and prep work prior to the end of December,” Goetsch said. “I anticipate placement of the signs starting as early as October.” He said he’s hoping both contracts will be complete during the next calendar year.

A memorandum of understanding between the county and BLM states the federal agency will assume maintenance responsibility for the trail markers once they are installed.

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