Group says it won't fence Storrie soon

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By David Giuliani

Visitors to Storrie Lake State Park shouldn’t expect to see any fences being erected there for at least the next couple of weeks.

As recently as Monday, the Storrie Project Water Users Association placed newspaper advertisements warning that it would close the park because the state refuses to renew its lease for the association’s land. The association’s leader said last week that the group may begin arranging for a fence as early as this week.

But on Monday, Storrie Project President Robert Quintana said his association would wait on any fencing plan until his group meets with Jon Goldstein, the secretary of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, in the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, the State Parks Division is trying to calm fears that the ninth-most-visited state park would be closed during its busiest season. It issued a press release on Friday saying events at the park, including an annual kite-flying festival on April 24, are still scheduled.

Storrie Project and the state have had a lease agreement for the park’s use since 1959, with the exception of five years in the 1980s when the lease was in dispute, a battle the association won.

The previous 15-year lease expired July 1, 2009. The state had been paying the association $30,000 a year, which it maintains is the most expensive such arrangement in the parks system. The state says it gets the use of land at some parks, including Elephant Butte, for free.

However, the Storrie Project says the land for the other parks is owned by federal agencies, not private nonprofit groups such as the Storrie Project.

The Storrie Project’s shareholders include ranchers, farmers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which represents the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, southeast of Las Vegas. The federal agency is a 60 percent shareholder of the Storrie Project, while the state holds a small fraction of shares.

In a statement late last week, the state said it would offer a fair extension of its lease agreement at an upcoming meeting.

The Storrie Project said it had offered to renew the lease on the same terms of the last agreement.

If the association fences off its land, it could include the entire park when the lake is at its high-water mark. The group warns that it would ban any on-shore fishing, but would allow fishing from boats because of a longstanding state Game and Fish Department easement.