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“5-Mile Learning Center” Land-Transfer Raises Concerns

Tuolumne County Supervisors have concerns about the Clovis School District trying to acquire some federal land around the “Five-Mile Regional Learning Center.”

The center in the Stanislaus National Forest on Old Oak Ranch Road is used to educate kids about natural resources. Thousands of students, from Reno to the San Francisco Bay Area use the center. 14,000 kids went there last year alone, school officials said.

The district wants to do maintenance on some of the facilities at the center, but say they can’t spend money on that project unless the district owns the land on which the buildings sit.

County Supervisor Mark Thornton praised the work of the center, but said that’s not the issue. He doesn´t like the precedent of giving federal land to local officials without much public comment.

“I hope everything else from now on out will be really open and public and everyone’s well aware of it,” Thornton said.

Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Tom Quinn said not all of the federal guidelines have been fulfilled yet on this proposal. When asked if the National Environmental Policy Act had been followed, Quinn said, “No, we´re still in the process of doing that and working with the Clovis Unified School district to assure that the necessary environmental analysis is completed.”

Quinn said he didn’t expect “insurmountable problems” to surface.

Supervisor Dick Pland doesn´t share Thornton’s concern. “I don´t have any concerns at all,” Pland said. “The Clovis School District, in 1989, stepped up to the plate and got a special use permit so they could conduct an education program,” he said.