Jeanne Herman 

                   Washoe County Commissioner District  5

Jeanne's Opinion Editorial on Public Land Use

Jeanne appointed to Federal Commission on Public Lands


OPINION:  No More Swans

Swan Lake Not fit for Swans

No self-respecting swan wants to live on Swan Lake anymore so they have flown away!  The residents of Lemmon Valley are not so fortunate however, as hundreds of folks who have been affected by flooding do not have that option.  Many of them have lived in their homes for their entire lives and everything they possess is on that property.  There is no alternative for them and “we” as “the government” are responsible for the state of Lemmon Valley, due to a complete lack of and disregard of any trace of planning.

Government has the responsibility of protecting and serving the public.  That is their purpose.  That is what government employees and public servants are paid more than adequately to do.

Recharging the ground with effluent perhaps was not a wise decision and, quite possibly, it is not such a great idea to pump millions and millions of gallons of effluent from two sewer plants, which are at maximum capacity, into Swan Lake, a closed basin with no outlet, as there is no downstream from a closed basin except the yards and homes of the citizens of Lemmon Valley which is still flooded almost two years after the storms and ensuing flood.

Yes, government is responsible.  Runaway development is responsible.  Every government entity had its share in the responsibility of this dismal failure to plan.  The warning signs were evident, like flashing neon lights, but the government entities who were responsible (there’s that word again) ignored the signs and pretended and professed the king was not naked and there was no problem.  AB39 was a good example, which was a slap in the face to voters in District 5.

As a commissioner, I called for a moratorium on building, from the podium, until a permanent solution was created for Lemmon Valley, until the government did the responsible thing for the people.  What has been happening in Washoe County, to the people of Lemmon Valley, is unconstitutional, and in my opinion, criminal. 

We Need to be RESPONSIBLE.!

Jeanne Herman


Jeanne's Opinion editorial on Swan Lake.



Many Washoe County residents may not realize that the new federal Greater Sage Grouse land use plan is not an issue that just concerns rural Nevada.  This plan also adversely affects the Reno-Sparks area because the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is our neighbor.  BLM managed lands surround many Washoe County suburban areas, and we need to be able to acquire some of this land for future growth.

BLM’s new land use plan includes a sage-grouse habitat map for Washoe County.  The problem is, these maps are so generalized that they are wrong and show areas as habitat – that are not habitat at all.  Unfortunately, BLM’s inaccurate habitat map is interfering with Washoe County’s Master Plan and our need to acquire certain BLM lands for carefully planned and necessary community development purposes.

For example, the BLM map mischaracterizes an 80-acre parcel in Lemmon Valley as habitat that is the site the Washoe County School District identified as the best place for a new middle school.  As everyone knows, we need to build new schools to alleviate overcrowding.

Washoe County’s more detailed (and thus much more accurate) habitat map proves that this vacant land is not habitat for the bird – but it would be a great place for a new school.  Unfortunately, BLM has refused to change their map even though there is no habitat at this site.  Consequently, the inaccurate BLM map takes this parcel off the table; Washoe County can no longer acquire this site from FLM.  So, it’s back to the drawing board to find a different (and possibly inferior) location to build this school.

Another conflict exists in Sparks where Washoe County has identified a 40-acre parcel adjacent to the Pyramid Highway that would be and optimal location for a new veteran’s cemetery.  But the BLM map mischaracterizes this spot as habitat, even though it is currently being used by dirt-bikers and most certainly isn’t a good place for the birds.

Washoe County has expended considerable resources to develop our own habitat maps because we think wildlife conservation is important.  We certainly strive to avoid conflicts between wildlife habitat and development.  But at the same time, we cannot be constrained by a faulty habitat map that means we can’t acquire lands needed for development.

Future conflicts are inevitable because the Washoe County Master Plan has identified the large area north of Reno, east of US 395, as the best place for future industrial and residential growth.  But BLM’s flawed habitat map has glaringly placed this land “out of bounds.”

That’s why the Washoe County Commissioners recently voted unanimously to join eight other Nevada Counties in challenging BLM’s Sage-Grouse Plan in federal court in Nevada.  That’s also why I applaud Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s decision to join this litigation on behalf of the State of Nevada.

Washoe County must be able to acquire BLM land needed for civic purposes to allow Reno-Sparks to prosper and grow.


Jeanne Herman

Washoe County Commissioner representing District 5