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NV Groups Vow to Fight Oil and Gas Drilling in Ruby Mountains

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Thursday, April 12, 2018   

ELKO COUNTY, Nev. — The Ruby Mountains in northeast Nevada are known for hiking trails to 11,000-foot peaks and alpine lakes. Now, the U.S. Forest Service is considering making 54,000 acres of land in the mountain range available to lease for oil and gas development.

But a coalition of almost a dozen conservation groups has said opening the Ruby Mountains to energy companies would threaten wildlife and encroach on a popular area for outdoor recreation.

"It's one of the prettiest areas in the state: big glaciated valleys, beautiful streams, a lot of wildlife,” said Shaaron Netherton, executive director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness. “If there's one area that's totally unsuited for oil and gas development, it's the Ruby Mountains."

The area being considered for potential leasing falls outside protected wilderness areas. The Forest Service has done some environmental analysis and said further, more detailed analysis would be done before any potential lessee could begin digging.

In fall 2017, the Forest Service took public comments on the proposed lease area, but the comment period reopened this week because of high public interest. While oil and gas drilling could potentially bring money to the state, Netherton said the economic benefits of a robust outdoor recreation industry should be taken into consideration, too.

"There's heli-skiing, there's guides and outfitters, there's bed-and-breakfasts, there's all kinds of folks who utilize the Ruby Mountains for economic benefits to the community,” she said.

The Forest Service has said it's considering making the area available to lease because a member of the public submitted a letter of interest to the Bureau of Land Management. The Forest Service will take public comments until April 23.


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