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KUNR Today: Reno presenting redistricting maps, Public comment open for controversial lithium mine

An image of the Reno City Hall building that reads "Reno" in large lettering on the roof.
Jana Sayson
KUNR Public Radio

Here are the local headlines for the morning of Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

City of Reno presenting redistricting maps next week
By Michelle Billman

The City of Reno will be presenting updated redistricting maps on Tuesday during a public virtual meeting. Following the U.S. census every decade, the city is required to redraw the boundaries of its five wards so that they are largely equal in terms of population size.

The draft maps were presented for public feedback earlier this month. After Tuesday’s presentation, the maps will head to city council on November 10th. In order to change the ward boundaries, the Reno City Council must adopt an ordinance that’s passed by a five-sevenths vote.

You can find more information here.

Assemblywoman Jill Tolles announces she will not run for re-election
By Tabitha Mueller and Megan Messerly, The Nevada Independent

Tolles recently announced she was leaving the Legislature to spend more time with her family and focus on her career. The news makes Tolles the ninth of 16 Republican Assembly members who have either announced or are mulling not returning to their positions for the 2023 session.

Assemblyman John Ellison of Elko, for one, is termed out and cannot seek re-election.

At the same time, several Assembly members have announced state Senate bids, including Lisa Krasner and Jim Wheeler. Other members of the Assembly are running for state controller and Clark County sheriff, or are waiting to see the results of Nevada's redistricting.

Read the full story at thenevadaindependent.com.

Nominee would be first Indigenous leader of National Park Service
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

President Biden’s nominee to head the National Park Service faced lawmakers during a committee hearing this week. Charles Sams is on track to become the first Indigenous person to lead the agency.

Sams said that one of his top concerns for the National Park Service is staff retention. The agency has lost about 20% of its employees over the past decade. Meanwhile, parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton are seeing a record-breaking number of visitors this year.

“When you look at that and the amount of people that are coming into the park, there is definitely a need for additional staff to deal with the overcrowding issue,” Sams said.

Sams didn’t give senators many details on how he’d keep those employees, though he would look at improving and expanding housing in the parks for staff, and he said he has a zero tolerance approach to harassment. The park service has been the subject of several sexual and workplace harassment investigations in recent years.

At the end of the hearing, Committee Chair and Democrat Joe Manchin said he was confident that senators on both sides of the aisle would vote to confirm Sams. The committee hasn’t set a date for that vote.

Public comment period open for proposed lithium mine permit request
By Michelle Billman

Nevada environmental officials are asking the public for feedback on the lithium mine proposal for Thacker Pass, near the Oregon state line. The Lithium Nevada Corporation is requesting what’s called a New Class II Air Quality Operating permit. The company would be running open-pit lithium mining and processing operations.

The public comment period opened this week and continues through November 18, when there will be a public hearing in Winnemucca. A variety of stakeholders, including Indigenous tribes and environmentalists, have vocally opposed the project over concerns about its impacts to sacred land and the environment.

It will take more than rain to end drought in Western U.S.
By The Associated Press

Northern California is finally getting drenched this week. But experts say the rain won't be enough to end the drought plaguing the Western United States. California's climate is hotter and drier now, meaning the rain and snow that does fall is more likely to evaporate or absorb into the soil. Some of California's most important reservoirs are at record-low levels. Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a statewide emergency drought declaration and given regulators permission to impose mandatory water restrictions. The rain has helped contain stubborn wildfires. But experts say it will take many seasons of multiple storms to end the drought.

Nevada Wolf Pack traveling to Fresno Saturday
By KUNR Staff

The 5-1 Nevada Wolf Pack football team will be on the road this weekend, taking on conference rival Fresno State. Nevada is second in the Mountain West, while the 5-2 Bulldogs rank third.

The Pack won the last meeting in December 37-to-26 at Mackay Stadium. Saturday’s kickoff is 4 p.m.

Editor’s note: This update was revised on Oct. 22 to clarify “Wolf Pack.”

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
Before joining The Nevada Independent in 2017, Megan was a reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, where she covered the 2016 election as the paper’s one-woman politics team. She also wrote magazine features for the Sun's sister publication, The Sunday.
Tabitha Mueller arrived at The Nevada Independent to work as an intern in 2019 after working as a freelance contributor for This is Reno. She is fascinated by storytelling, place and the intersection of narrative and data analysis.
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