*NEW* Updated WCSD Plan of Development published by U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Environmental Assessment (EA) comment period opens, USFS to host open house forum.
See the updated WCSD Plan of Development and USFS letter regarding the EA, comment period and open house forum here on the USFS website, or pasted below along with a Q&A provided by USFS. On the USFS site, look under the “Analysis” and “Scoping” tabs under “Project Documents” to see these documents and information.
Location: in process of securing land. Current frontrunner is U.S. Forest Service land across from Hunsberger Elementary School
Projected completion: Dependent on land acquisition
Status: Environmental Assessment and acquisition due diligence
Purpose: Relieve overcrowding at area middle and elementary schools, accommodate projected growth in the area.
Dear Interested Citizen:
The Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (Forest) is initiating a comment period for a preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed Education Land Grant Act Transfer of National Forest System Land to Washoe County School District #52446, displaying the proposed action and potential effects of the project. The Forest is proposing to convey approximately 60 acres of National Forest System land in accordance with the Educational Land Grant Act (ELGA) to the Washoe County School District (WCSD). If conveyed, the WCSD would use the land to development of a school campus. The Project Area is located in southwest Reno, Washoe County at the intersection of Thomas Creek Road and Arrowcreek Parkway. Specifically, the project area is located at T. 18 N., R. 19 E., Sec. 24 S ½SE¼, excepting that portion conveyed by U.S. Patent No. 2 7-96-003 5.
The preliminary EA, including the proposed action, is available for review and can be downloaded from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=52446. To obtain a hard copy of the preliminary EA and proposed action please contact Irene Davidson, Carson District Ranger, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, 1536 S. Carson Street, Carson City, NV, 89701, 775 884-8100 email@example.com.
This preliminary EA is subject to comment pursuant to 36 CFR 218, Subparts A and B. Only those who submit timely project-specific written comments during a public comment period are eligible to file an objection. Furthermore, issues raised in objections must be based on previously submitted specific written comments regarding the proposed conveyance or activity and attributed to the objector, unless the issue is based on new information that arose after the opportunities for comment. Individuals or representatives of an entity submitting comments must sign the comments or verify identity upon request.
HOW TO COMMENT AND TIMEFRAMES
The Forest Service will accept comments on the preliminary EA for 30 days following publication of the opportunity to comment legal notice in the Reno- Gazette Journal, which is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period. Commenters should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source. It is the commenter’s responsibility to ensure timely receipt of comments (36 CFR 218.25).
Please submit your comments on the proposal website, at https://cara.ecosystemmanagmenlorg/Public/Commentlnput?project=52446. If your computer is not compatible with the website, try using a different web browser, or you can email comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org. All formal comments on the EA must be submitted in writing.
In cases where no identifiable name is attached to a comment, a verification of identity will be required for appeal eligibility. If using an electronic message, a scanned signature is one way to provide verification. It is the responsibility of persons providing comments to submit them by the close of the comment period. Names of commenters will be part of the public record subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
The Forest Service will host an open house forum meeting to discuss the preliminary EA and the Forest Service’s decision to be made. The meeting will be held at 6:30 pm on February 22, 2018 at
the South Valley Library Diamond Room, located at 15650-A Wedge Parkway, Reno, NV 89511. The meeting will include a brief introduction of the proposed land conveyance by the Forest Service followed by an opportunity to discuss with Forest staff members.
The U.S. Forest Service, Washoe County School District Arrowcreek School Campus Proposal, Education Land Grant Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act
Q: Why is the Forest Service Considering this Proposal?
A: The Washoe County School District (WCSD) submitted an application requesting conveyance of 60 acres of U.S. Forest Service land at the intersection of Thomas Creek Road and Arrowcreek Parkway in Reno Nevada, under the authority of the Education Land Grant Act (ELGA).
The Forest Service accepted the WCSD’s application on May 11, 2017. The Forest Service is required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to disclose the potential effects of conveying the land to the WCSD. The Forest Supervisor will then use this analysis in conjunction with the criteria listed in the ELGA in deciding whether to approve or deny the application for conveyance of the land to the WCSD.
Q: What is the Forest Service deciding?
A: The Forest Service will decide if the WCSD application for land conveyance is consistent with the criteria in the Educational Land Grant Act.
The Forest Service does NOT determine how the campus would be built on the land if it is conveyed to the WCSD.
The ELGA requires that the land be used for publicly funded elementary or secondary schools, or grounds or facilities related to those schools. The Forest Service does not decide the size, type, configuration, or any other details about the facilities to be built by the WCSD once the land is conveyed.
Q: Who decides if and how the Campus is developed?
A: The WCSD would be required to obtain appropriate permits from Washoe County and the State of Nevada for the construction and operation of the school campus.
The proposed development schedule indicates that in 2018, post conveyance, the WCSD would begin the architectural and engineering work related to the first phase (middle school) development of the campus. As a part of the architectural and engineering work, the WCSD will complete a traffic study, and in conjunction with the Washoe County special use permitting process, address traffic congestion and safety.
It is anticipated that the WCSD and Washoe County would continue to offer opportunities for public involvement and public comment as the campus development and construction permitting processes continue.
Q: What is the Educational Land Grant Act:
A: The “Education Land Grant Act” (ELGA) (114 Stat. 368; 16 U.S.C.A.§ 479a) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to convey National Forest System lands to a public school district for use for educational purposes if the Secretary determines that–
(1) the public school district seeking the conveyance will use the conveyed land for a public or publicly funded elementary or secondary school, to provide grounds or facilities related to such a school, or for both purposes;
(2) the conveyance will serve the public interest;
(3) the land to be conveyed is not otherwise needed for the purposes of the National Forest System;
(4) the total acreage to be conveyed does not exceed the amount reasonably necessary for the proposed use;
(5) the land is to be used for an established or proposed project that is described in detail in the application to the Secretary, and the conveyance would serve public objectives (either locally or at large) that outweigh the objectives and values which would be served by maintaining such land in Federal ownership;
(6) the applicant is financially and otherwise capable of implementing the proposed project;
(7) the land to be conveyed has been identified for disposal in an applicable land and resource management plan under Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.); and
(8) an opportunity for public participation in a disposal under this section has been provided, including at least one public hearing or meeting, to provide for public comments.
Q: What if the WCSD Arrowcreek School Campus is not developed?
A: If conveyed, the deed would contain a restriction not allowing the use of the land for other purposes. The land would revert to the Forest Service if not developed for educational purposes.
Q: What is NEPA and how does it apply to this project?
A: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that any federal action be analyzed for potential effects, under the regulations contained in 40 CFR 1500. A potential conveyance of land to the WCSD is a federal action, and therefore must be analyzed under NEPA. The Forest Service must analyze the environmental effects of the proposed action, which is the conveyance of 60 acres of land to the WCSD.
Q: Why did the Forest Service include a preliminary campus design?
A: The Forest Service is not proposing to build or approve the building of a school on the site, but must analyze the potential effects of future development, as it is a foreseeable future action on the parcel. The Forest Service has the responsibility to make an informed judgment about future development, and to estimate future impacts on that basis. The agency cannot ignore these uncertain, but probable, effects of its decision.
The Forest Service must use the best available information about future development potential when analyzing reasonable foreseeable future development on the land, which is the current Plan of Development proposed by the WCSD.
The documents the Forest Service released to the public in late September 2017 for scoping, and included in the Preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) reflect the preliminary design provided by the WCSD to assist the Forest Service in its analysis of the application effects.
Q: When were NEPA scoping comments collected?
A: In mid-September 2017, the Forest Service released a request for scoping comments on the proposed action to convey the 60 acres of land to the WCSD. The scoping letter asked for comments by October 20th, 2017. All comments submitted by the public in response to the request were reviewed by the Forest Service. Scoping comments have been used to focus the environmental analysis presented in the Preliminary EA. A summary of the scoping comments is located in Attachment A of the Preliminary EA.
Q: When can the public comment on the Preliminary EA?
A: The preliminary EA was released for a 30-day comment period, initiated with a legal notice in the newspaper of record (The Reno Gazette-Journal) on February 9, 2017.
Q: Where do I submit comments on the Preliminary EA?
A: Comments can be submitted under the Get Connected tab at the USFS website www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=52446.
Q: How do I comment on the Preliminary EA?
A: You may wish to review suggestions from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Service, Special Publication-09-19, NEPA Response: A Guide for Reading and Responding to NEPA Documents www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/nr/2009/sp0915.pdf.
Some of the suggestions in publication include:
The publication suggests that good and useful comments are focused on the specific content, or lack thereof, in the document. In your comment, clearly state:
• The problems you have found with the document,
• Why the information provided in the document is in error,
• Why the data in the document has been interpreted incorrectly,
• The location of correct or missing information or data,
• Other issues that should be addressed or why identified issues are not as critical as presented by the sponsoring agency,
• Alternative ideas about how to address the issues identified in the document,
• The sources of your information,
• Personal observations and ancillary data you possess (photos, notes of observations, records of unusual events or activities), and that are critical to the analysis, or
• The number of years you have worked in the project area, your formal and informal education or training related to the purpose of the project and the issues it addresses, and how your experience supports your observations and comments.
Q: What happens after the EA comment period?
A: The Forest Supervisor will then consider comments and release a revised EA, along with a draft Decision Notice, so the public can see the analysis and the proposed decision on whether and how to implement the land conveyance. At that time, any party who has previously submitted comments during a designated comment period (during scoping or during the legally noticed 30-day comment period), will have standing to object to the project (also called pre-decisional review). If parties “object”, there will be an objection review period, following regulations in 36 CFR 218.
Once any objections are reviewed and resolved, the Forest Supervisor will make a decision on whether to convey the land to the Washoe County School District.
Q: Where can I get additional information?
A: For further information about the NEPA process and the comment process, go to:
If you have remaining questions about NEPA or the comment process, you may contact:
If you have questions about the WCSD campus application and campus proposal, you may contact:
Plan of Development- Updated December 2017
Washoe County School District Arrowcreek School Campus ELGA Application
The Washoe County School District (WCSD) anticipates the Plan of Development (POD) will continually be modified and updated as the application processing takes place. WCSD anticipates through the processes of public involvement and the development of the environmental assessment for the proposal, a number of modifications may be made to minimize potential impacts, address issues and concerns, and to incorporate best management practices for the proposed construction and operation of the proposed school campus.
The December 2017 update includes revisions to the POD to reflect a number of comments and concerns identified during the scoping period. Phase 2 has been modified to eliminate the originally proposed Pre-K school and change the use to an outdoor science classroom to be used in association with the Middle School. The update also includes the addition of a background section that describes the parcel history and the WCSD long term interest in developing a school campus on the parcel.
A final POD will be submitted for the administrative record in conjunction with finalizing the public involvement process and completing the environmental assessment.
Plan of Development Arrowcreek School Campus
Phase 1 of the campus development addresses WCSD’s immediate need for a new middle school and sports fields. Phase 1 of the proposed campus will be designed in 2018 following completion of site specific traffic, geotechnical, and drainage studies and detailed survey of existing easements and utilities. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2019 and operational in 2020. Design of the middle school would be adapted from the existing WCSD Depoali Middle School. The elements of the middle school generally remain the same, but the footprint for the school and access roads will be modified to best fit the Arrowcreek site. Final design plans for the middle school will incorporate County design standards to reduce impacts from noise and lighting and minimize traffic congestion.
Phase 2 may include development of outdoor educational classroom and trails associated with the middle school.
Phase 3 of the school campus would be determined based on the anticipated future needs of WCSD and may include a specialized middle or high school such as a Regional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Academy, a Regional Arts Academy (Theatre, Photography, Paint, Drawing, Ceramics, Music Hall) or a CTE/AACT Academy. Conceptually, the specialized school in Phase 3 would be smaller in size than the middle school with a capacity of approximately 600 students. The specialized school could be an addition to the middle school or be built as a standalone structure.
Security fencing will be included in the final design and mowed fire-breaks will be maintained along the fence lines.
Detailed plans will be developed by WCSD post conveyance and will require review and approval by Washoe County Community Development for consistency with Washoe County codes, regulations, and standards including the environmental controls to be applied during construction.
The application includes acreage reasonably necessary for the proposed three phases of development. The conveyance of the 60-acre parcel will allow WCSD to engineer and design the campus in a manner that meets educational facility needs and standards and minimizes adverse effects to neighbors and the neighborhood.
Phase 1 – Arrowcreek Middle School Conceptual Description
The first phase of development, described below, would be construction of a middle school and sports fields. The middle school engineering, design and construction would begin in 2018 and be operational in 2020. The middle school design would be adapted from the existing WCSD Depoali Middle School. The elements of the middle school generally remain the same, but the footprint for the school will be modified for the Arrowcreek site.
• Approximately 190,000 – 200,000 square feet
• 1400 student capacity
• 50+ classrooms
• Music Room
• Multi-purpose room/cafeteria
• Outdoor basketball courts
• Outdoor track & sports fields
• Separate parking and loading areas for staff, buses, parents and visitors
Access and Utilities
Access and utilities will be from the existing Thomas Creek and Arrowcreek Parkway county roads and there will no disturbance of Forest Service lands outside the application area for access or utilities. A traffic study will be conducted by WCSD to assist in determining the traffic design measures that will reduce congestion.
Third Party Rights
The USFS has issued an easement to Washoe County for Arrowcreek Parkway.
A&TT has a number of buried telephone cable located on the east side of Thomas Creek Road.
Conveyance would be subject to valid and existing rights.
County Permits Required
Washoe County will be the primary local government entity providing permitting oversight for the construction and operation of the school campus. It is anticipated that Washoe County will require the WCSD to obtain a Special Use Permit, Grading Permit, and Building Permit. In the permitting processes, Washoe County will apply environmental controls during construction that the WCSD would be subject to as a part of obtaining county permits for construction and operation of school facilities.
Survey and Boundary Delineation
As a part of finalizing the site design, the WCSD will have a licensed register surveyor complete a site survey and post the boundaries of the 60 acres. It is anticipated that school facilities will be fenced for security purposes.
Proposed Arrowcreek Campus Financial Plan
WCSD receives $0.3885 for every $100 of assessed valuation through property tax collections in Washoe County. In 2015, the Nevada State Legislature authorized the WCSD to issue rollover bonds against this revenue source for up to ten years for the construction and renovation of school facilities. This revenue source is estimated to be approximately $30 million annually. Additionally, in 2016 the citizens of Washoe County approved a permanent sales tax increase of 0.54% to be dedicated solely to WCSD capital projects. From this estimated direct revenue stream of approximately $50 million annually. Between property tax and sales tax revenues within Washoe County, the WCSD anticipates issuing over $1 billion in bonds specifically dedicated to capital projects and renewal.
Construction Cost Estimates and Timeline
This POD is focused on the approximately 60 acres situated within the southernmost portion of the Section 24, T. 18 N., R. 19 E. as described above. The 60-acre site is proposed to be developed in three primary phases over the course of approximately 20 years. Each phase will include utility and site improvements appropriate to the development of the phase.
The application for conveyance, if approved, anticipates beginning construction of Phase 1 in 2019. Future phases will also demonstrate compliance with the proposed plan of development.
Total Estimated Development Costs:
Phase 1: $58,825,000
Phase 2: $ 125,000
Phase 3: $35,500,000
Phase 1 (2018-2020)
Phase 1 will include a number of investments associated with the full 60-acres as well as the construction of likely the single most expensive facility, School Site #1. Including initial land acquisition, parcel survey, boundary identification, engineering, mass grading, boundary security and School Site #1 construction costs, Phase 1 (2018-2020) is anticipated to cost between $55-$65 million in total.
Phase 2 (2020-2025)
Proceeding with the Phase 2 scope, an outdoor classroom and trail is anticipated to begin in 2020 with design and construction of site improvement with a cost estimate of $125,000.
Phase 3 (2029-2039)
Following the same long-term planning logic and allowing for highest and best use to guide our program, as well as following the regional trends of growth and development, it is anticipated that another gap of between 5 to 10 years between phases 2 and 3 may be appropriate. It is therefore anticipated that there will be little to no activity across the Phase 3 site during 2018-2029 with the exception of the ongoing operations and maintenance of School Sites #1 and #2 and the required maintenance of the remainder of the property. Proceeding with the Phase 3 scope is anticipated in approximately 2030 with design and construction of School Site #3 and a cost estimate of between $35-$40 million in total.
Summary of Site History
• March 17, 1966, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Recreation and Public Purpose Lease (Nev-066123) of the parcel was issued to the WCSD for use as a school campus. The lease expired on March 16, 1986 without the land being developed.
• On April 26, 1989, the parcel was transferred from the BLM to the US Forest Service pursuant to National Forest and Public Lands of Nevada Enhancement Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-550, 102 STAT. 2749).
o The 1988 Act called for all transferred lands shall continue to be managed in accordance with plans in effect on the date of enactment of the Nevada Enhancement Act until considered in plans developed under applicable provisions of law
o At the time of transfer from the BLM, the 1985 Lahontan Area Resource Management Plan (RMP) and 1987 Amendment to that RMP, identified the parcel, along with many other parcels in the BLM resource area, for disposal from federal ownership. Additionally, at the time of transfer, the parcel remained classified for disposal by the BLM under authority of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 in association with 1966 BLM lease.
• In December 2004, the WCSD filed an ELGA application for the 100-acre Thomas Creek Road School Site, and the application was acknowledged by the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF Supervisor on January 19, 2005.
• In 2016, the subject parcel was identified on the draft Washoe County Public Lands Bill Map #2 – Land Transfer Request. The map identified federal lands that have been requested for transfer from BLM and USFS jurisdiction to local jurisdiction, such as Sparks, Washoe County or to public entities such as the WCSD or the Truckee Meadows Water Authority for a variety of public purposes.
o Washoe County hosted two open house events for the public to learn more about the Public Lands Bill in September 2016.
o There also was a Public Lands Open Forum at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on Nov. 2, 2016.
• In March 2017, the WCSD withdrew the 2004 ELGA application in favor of filing a new application.
• On April 26, 2017, WCSD filed an ELGA application covering 60 acres for the development of the Arrowcreek School Campus.
The application covers National Forest System lands where the objective is to rearrange ownership patterns to benefit both public and private interest. The parcel is currently surrounded on three sides by private land and is not needed for any type of special management. The public interest is served better by conveying this land for use as a school than to continue to be an isolated parcel of National Forest System land.
Conveyance of the land from the Forest to WCSD would be in the public’s best interest. The WCSD has identified a need for greater capacity to meet the educational needs of Washoe County students. Enrollment rates have historically grown by 3.5% (or 1,619 students) per year and are projected to rise by 1.7% annually for the next several years. Development of a middle school will eliminate or substantially reduce current or projected overcrowding over the next decade for eight elementary and two middle schools. In doing so, it will also open up a significant number of classrooms that can be used for expansion of special education and other programs in the affected schools. The County voters approved a bond issue to fund school construction to meet this need, and construction of the Arrowcreek Middle School was identified as high priority.