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Nevada Think Tank Announces New Case Aimed at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

CARSON CITY – A conservative Nevada think tank today announced the second case taken on by its Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation (CJCL), this one aimed at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for allegedly flooding a Pahrump church camp through negligent and illegal work on two streams.

The action is being taken on behalf of Victor Fuentes, a 1991 escapee from Cuba who in 2004 formed a church with his wife Annette in Las Vegas called The Ministerio Roco Solida Church, or Solid Rock Church.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute’s CJCL is filing a claim for damages on behalf of his church with the federal agency.

In 2006, Fuentes purchased a 40-acre, Wild West-themed camp in Amargosa Valley for $500,000, using a combination of member contributions and his own money. After purchasing the property Fuentes spent another $700,000 refurbishing buildings, installing a septic system and retrofitting elements of the camp — which was renamed “Patch of Heaven.”

By 2010, Fuentes said the property was booked “nearly every weekend” with church groups and campers. The main attractions of the camp were two spring-fed streams flowing through the property, and a swimming pond.

Victor Fuentes at Patch of Heaven.

In the fall of 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began rerouting the streams away from the camp. The case alleges the streams – which had flowed through the property since the 1800s – were diverted to go around the camp, cutting off its recreational and baptismal waters.

The agency completed the rerouting project in early December 2010. On Dec. 23, just before Christmas, rain raised the stream waters over the federal agency’s constructed banks, flooding Patch of Heaven. The camp was submerged in mud and muddy water, severely damaging the buildings and other property.

“It was devastating,” Annette Fuentes said. “Seeing all the work we put into [the camp] ruined by some type of government negligence was unbelievable.”

In addition to the structural damage, the Fuenteses say the overall value of the camp property is now significantly less. Not only has the camp been deprived of its water source, but it is now on a government-created flood plain.

Patch of Heaven flooded.

The Fuenteses reached out to several government officials for help, but received few responses.

“The government acts like a separate entity from the people – they are there, and we are here,” Victor Fuentes said.

Joseph Becker, chief legal officer and director of CJCL, said the diversion of the streams was an illegal act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In an article in the Pahrump Valley Times in 2009, a federal official said the work was intended to restore the streams to their original channel.

The article quoted Cynthia Martinez, manager of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge complex, who said the alignment is the result of a 15-year management plan. The plan was discussed at public meetings in 2008, including one at the Amargosa Valley Community Center, Martinez said. She said the Fish and Wildlife Service isn’t rerouting the channel but restoring it to its original path.

The restoration of the channel is designed to help the speckled dace, an endangered species of fish, Martinez said.

Speckled dace. / Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

“The reason the refuge was established was for threatened and endangered species. One of the restoration techniques we have is to restore their native habitat. That means going back and reconstructing outflow channels from all these springs back in their hydrologically correct direction,” Martinez said.

It is the second action taken by the CJCL. In November it filed a lawsuit against the state of Nevada and the Public Utilities Commission alleging the employment of a state lawmaker violated the state constitution’s separation of powers clause.

Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, left the job about the time the lawsuit was filed, but the case is being pursued by the CJCL because of the ramifications for other lawmakers serving in state or local government public jobs.

 


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Another telephone scammer, this time claiming to be the Carson City undersheriff, has surfaced again. Sheriff Ken Furlong is warning citizens not to engage with the caller.

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Follow Carson TV News at www.facebook.com/carsontvnews for updates, information and to learn more about the program, which airs weekly on Mondays, Charter Cable Channel 193, at 4:30 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. and throughout the week. Have a news tip? You can also submit photos and video to CarsonTVnews@gmail.com.

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UPDATE: Yogi Berra may have said, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore,” but at the 2014 Carson City Mint Coin Show and Fair, the value is in the eye of the beholder. Sharp skilled dealers will buy, sell, trade and offer their expertise with free appraisals during the two-day event today, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23. Held this year at both the Nevada State Museum and the Carson Nugget, the fair includes activities for children, prize drawings, lectures, coin sales and free appraisals with admission.

Attendees of the Valhalla Art, Music and Theater Festival at Lake Tahoe learn how to use a cross-cut saw, the primary tool used today to keep trails open and accessible in the Wilderness. The event celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 National Wilderness Preservation Act.

U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit staff provided saws, logs and gloves and guided over 50 participants of all ages as they cut through a 10-inch log and received the souvenir slice branded with the 50th Wilderness Anniversary logo.

A 51-year-old Carson City man was arrested Thursday on a felony charge of child abuse after allegedly hitting and punching two juveniles, a Carson City sheriff’s deputy said.

Michael Todd Presley was arrested at 9:10 p.m. in the 4500 block of Short Putt Drive. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery. According to the arrest report, officers were called to Governor’s Field at 4:15 p.m. regarding a report of suspected child abuse.

A Carson City couple have made a commitment to take on the toughest job they're destined to ever love. Warren and Anita Shaul have been accepted into the Peace Corps and will begin work in Nicaragua this month as volunteers.

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Sparks police say a Carson City man is the suspect in a bizarre incident where at least 100 rounds from three different weapons were shot from the second floor of Motel 6 early Thursday morning. No one was injured but several vehicles were damaged.

Luis Alberto Machado, 34, was arrested following the incident at the south side of the Victorian Avenue motel, after police fired a single shot that missed but forced him to surrender. He faces charges of obstructing with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon on police officer, trafficking controlled substance and felony property damage.

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The Carson City Sheriff’s Office is looking for a 14-year-old girl, considered a runaway. Jocelyn Morales is 5 feet 2 inches, 102 pounds with brown, shaved hair. She was last seen Aug. 19, when she left her Hot Springs Road home and failed to show up for school, said Carson City Sheriff’s Detective Steve Olson.

She was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, gray leggings and black Vans shoes. Jocelyn has run away in the past, however she did not bring any additional clothing with her. She is entered into the National Crime Information Center as a runaway.

Tickets for the 2014 season of the Polar Express aboard the historic Virginia and Truckee Railroad are now on sale. The perennial holiday favorite all-ages train ride from the frosty Northern Nevada landscape to the North Pole, will run from Nov. 20 to Dec. 22. The hour long V&T diesel train ride includes a keepsake silver bell, hot chocolate and cookies, entertainment and a reading of The Polar Express.

The Carson City Sheriff’s Office will conduct another pedestrian crosswalk operation on Friday, Aug. 29. These operations are conducted to educate the public in pedestrian and driver safety, said Carson City Sheriff's Office Sgt. Scott McDaniel.

Earlier this month, a similar operation was held where 50 traffic citations were issued along the north and south ends of Carson Street.

The operation, in cooperation with the Nevada Highway Patrol, was done as a way to address pedestrian safety and a growing number of motorists failing to yield as pedestrians cross sidewalks, said McDaniel.

Attention musicians: The Carson City Symphony will begin rehearsals for the 2014-15 concert season on Wednesday, August 27, 7:00 to 9:15 p.m., at the Carson High School band room.

The Symphony, conducted by David Bugli, is a volunteer orchestra of about 55 players who perform music from the 15th to 21st centuries. It is open to string players at any time without audition, and to other instrumentalists when positions are available. Current openings are for strings and horn. Musicians who are interested in joining should contact the Symphony at 775-883-4154.

The Carson City Board of Supervisors are meeting today in the Sierra Room of the Carson City Community Center. Go here for the agenda and here to watch it live.

A 50-year-old Sacramento man, Timothy Eric Seibel, was arrested Wednesday, 2:56 p.m. in the 3300 block of East Fifth Street on a felony parole violation charge, a Carson City sheriff’s deputy said. He is being held without bail until a court hearing.

In other arrests: A 33-year-old Carson City man was arrested Thursday, 2:19 a.m. in the 900 block of South Carson Street on the following misdemeanor charges: Possession of drug paraphernalia, driving on a suspended license, no valid insurance, and two counts violation of a suspended sentence.

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The Builders Association of Western Nevada Women’s Council, which serves Carson City, Douglas and Lyon counties, continues its Helping Hands program this year by giving single female homeowners some help with upgrades and repairs to the homes they own.

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