BLM should cancel land auction

The Carson-Douglas border war just escalated.

Before this week, it was all talk. Carson City didn't like how successful Douglas County has been in luring big-box retail stores across the county line. But aside from a few swipes back and forth -- good-natured, we thought -- no shots had been fired.

Now comes one across Douglas County's bow. Carson City is maneuvering to block the sale of federal land in Douglas County on the east side of Highway 395, smack in the development corridor.

Douglas's intentions aren't entirely mercenary. Sale of the highly developable land would be used to buy up development rights on Carson Valley ranch lands, helping preserve open space.

And Carson City officials aren't just being snitty. They have legitimate concerns about how Douglas plans to handle its north county growth, and how much of the burden for services will fall on Carson.

None of this is new. The Bureau of Land Management has marked the property as "disposable" and the three governments have had four years to work out their differences.

Nevertheless, those differences are actually far greater today than when the BLM started analyzing this sale.

Carson City rightly criticizes the BLM for giving short shrift to issues of traffic, open space and infrastructure. A federal agency must not make a deal with one county that's going to cause significant ripples in another county just a few hundred yards away.

Four years ago, Target, Super Wal-Mart and Home Depot didn't exist in Douglas County. Neither did a slow-growth initiative.

If anything, the 146 acres in question is probably needed more now as a buffer to Douglas County's rapid growth, rather than a way to fuel more of it.

The BLM should rapidly extract itself from this Carson-Douglas border war by canceling the upcoming auction and pulling the 146 acres off the block. None of the issues surrounding north Douglas County growth have been resolved, and sale of this property will only exacerbate them.


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