News Flash

News Home

Posted on: September 9, 2020

Conservation Easements Benefit Agriculture, Farmers, County and Navy

Navy, county reps flank Ernie and Carmen Schank in front of easement property

Naval Air Station Fallon, Churchill County and local farmer Ernie Schank closed a deal earlier this summer whereby 490 acres of farmland on both sides of Highway 50 at Rio Vista are now permanently in agriculture thus benefitting Schank, the Navy and the county. 

Accompanying those 490 acres of agricultural land are nearly 400 acres of water rights, making this transaction the largest single conservation easement between the Navy and the county to date. Schank also happens to be the first farmer to participate in the conservation easement program back from its inception in the mid-2000s.

The occasion was marked by a photo opportunity on July 1 among the major entities that worked to make this purchase happen.

Churchill County’s conservation easement program helps protect the two largest industries in our area: agriculture and the U.S. Navy by paying farmers to keep their land (and the water rights for that land) in ag production in perpetuity. It is one of the most successful conservation easement programs, vis-à-vis the military, in the nation.

How it works

Here’s how the conservation easement program works:

  • Agriculture properties with a minimum of 20 acres that fall within the designated buffer zone around NAS Fallon are eligible to apply with the Churchill County Planning Department as a sending site.
  • The sending site committee reviews applications and makes recommendations to Board of County Commissioners for approval.
  • The Navy and the county request an appraisal of the proposed conservation easement.
  • County Manager’s Office meets with the property owner to review the appraisal.
  • Property owner chooses whether or not to enter into a purchase agreement with the county.
  • Upon execution of a purchase agreement, escrow is opened for the formal purchasing of the conservation easement.
  • Through the Department of Defense’s Readiness Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program funds are designated for the U.S. Navy’s portion of the conservation easement program/purchases, which is currently 90 percent. Churchill County funds the remaining 10 percent of easement purchase. 

Program benefits

The benefits to the program are plentiful for all entities involved:


The conservation easement program is entirely voluntary. Farmers can access much-needed capital to use how they desire; popular uses include paying off loans, reinvesting in ag operations or their agricultural holdings, all while maintaining ownership of their property and continuing farming operations. Even with a conservation easement, landowners are still able to sell their property for agricultural purposes.

As Schank said: “This program provides cash for our lands without being tempted to sell our land to developers. We sell the development rights for cash to preserve our ag lands with water and protect land around NAS Fallon from growth.”

U.S. Navy/NAS Fallon

The conservation easement program allows the Navy to keep development away from its fence line and out of the flight path since ag land is compatible with military operations and is a complimentary economic component to the military. Capt. Evan Morrison, NAS Fallon’s commanding officer, said the conservation easement program helps further forge the partnership between the Navy and Churchill County by preventing encroachment.

Churchill County

Churchill County benefits by:

  • Preserving its agricultural heritage
  • Keeping water in the Lahontan Valley for both ag production and groundwater aquifer recharge
  • Protecting water from competing upstream interests and putting it to beneficial use for sustaining ag production. 
  • The money stays with local farmers helping preserve their way of life and development is directed away from NAS Fallon to areas designated by the county’s master plan as suitable for future residential and commercial growth.  

“This program is important to our future and for securing water for Fallon and Churchill County,” said County Commission Chair Pete Olsen.

Schank said with this easement now completed, all his farmland, with one small exception of a plot near the airport, is in agriculture forever.

Those further interested in the conservation easement program may contact the Churchill County Planning Department at (775)423-7627.

Photo: Capt. Evan Morrison, Commanding Officer, NAS Fallon; Pete Olsen, Churchill County Commission Chair; Carmen and Ernie Schank, Rusty Jardine, general manager, Truckee Carson Irrigation District and Jim Barbee, Churchill County Manager in front of the Schanks’ easement land.

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in News Home

Old weir flow in mid-March 2023

High-Water Operations Continue

Posted on: April 6, 2023
Carson River flowing high at McLean Road.

High-Water Town Hall Takeaways

Posted on: March 29, 2023
High Water Call Center Number Established

High Water Call Center Established

Posted on: March 17, 2023
Pinwheels at base of Millennium Park's clock tower

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Posted on: March 16, 2023
Water in the V-line on Coleman

Ensure Insurance Policies Are Current

Posted on: March 10, 2023
Water through the V-line weir in 2017

High Water Operations Underway

Posted on: March 6, 2023
Myles with dog in forest_crop

Newest Commissioner Eager to Serve

Posted on: January 31, 2023
Pete Olsen portrait

‘It’s Been A Good Ride’

Posted on: January 4, 2023

ASL Anywhere Now Available For Nevadans

Posted on: December 27, 2022
Bus swearing in

Scharmann Sworn In As County Commissioner

Posted on: November 18, 2022
Mel Glover raises flags on the flagpole in front of the museum

Mel Glover Selected New Museum Director

Posted on: August 19, 2022
Hands in dirt

Virtual Classes Focusing on Soil Health

Posted on: August 12, 2022
Water in an irrigation  canal

Striking a Balance

Posted on: April 18, 2022
Person holding their head in their hands

Crisis Intervention Training Offered

Posted on: April 12, 2022
Fire truck cab on the assembly line

New Fire Engines Being Custom Built

Posted on: February 16, 2022
Older woman holds coffee mug

Powerful Tools For Caregivers Class

Posted on: October 25, 2021
Jack-o-lantern decor

County Departments Host Fall Events

Posted on: October 8, 2021
Flags on veteran head stones at cemetery

Members Needed For Cemetery Board

Posted on: October 5, 2021
Children surround a scarecrow they built

Scarecrow Factory Returns For Fall Fun

Posted on: October 4, 2021
Museum facade_travnev

Museum Offers Traditional Lifeways Classes

Posted on: September 30, 2021
Wishing tree distribution

Wishing Tree Applications Now Available

Posted on: September 21, 2021
1st county youth getting Pfizer vaccine

Need Folks Willing To Be Tested

Posted on: May 13, 2021
Three Easter eggs nestled together in grass

Great Easter Egg Hunt is April 3-11

Posted on: March 23, 2021
Commissioner Greg Koenig

Meet Commissioner Greg Koenig

Posted on: January 12, 2021
Dan Ingram

Churchill County Museum Director Dies

Posted on: December 15, 2020
Filling a gas tank at the pump

Relief for roads, bridges coming

Posted on: December 8, 2020
Shop safely_CISA infographic

Tips for Safe Holiday Online Shopping

Posted on: November 30, 2020
I Voted Sticker Spool on White Surface

General Election 2020 Information

Posted on: August 20, 2020
Churchill County Sheriff's Office shield

Two Deaths in Churchill County Today

Posted on: September 25, 2020
Churchill County Sheriff's Office shield

Fatal Traffic Accident on Indian Lakes Road

Posted on: September 21, 2020
Merry Christmas Tag On Christmas Tree

Wishing Tree Applications Now Available

Posted on: September 18, 2020
Laronda Atchison with Commissioners

County Honors Employees With Service Awards

Posted on: September 17, 2020
Blake Brandenburg

My Experience in Firefighting

Posted on: September 2, 2020
Person Holding A Vaccine

All-Day Drive-Up Shot Clinic on Aug. 24

Posted on: August 20, 2020
Gary Ridenour

Sheriff's Office Arrests Ridenour

Posted on: June 9, 2020
Pickup Truck on Highway

DMV To Reopen June 15

Posted on: June 9, 2020
Bookcase at library

Library Building Remains Closed

Posted on: May 29, 2020
Primary mail_in ballot

Reminding Churchill County Voters

Posted on: May 26, 2020
I Voted Sticker Spool on White Surface

Extended Voting Hours Start May 23

Posted on: May 20, 2020
County Administration building

County Offices Slowly Reopening

Posted on: May 15, 2020
Sheckler intersection during temporary light construction

Sheckler Light Project Status Update

Posted on: April 19, 2020
Golf Course septic-to-sewer connection project

SOS - Save Our Sewer

Posted on: March 19, 2020
Census proclamation by County Commissioners

Census Events in Churchill County

Posted on: March 10, 2020
Hwy 95 fixes

NDOT to Begin Construction on Hwy 95

Posted on: March 10, 2020
Baby Sleeping Beside Girl on Gray Floral Sheet

Census 2020: Counting the Children

Posted on: February 14, 2020
Sheriff Hickox

Sheriff looking forward to 2020

Posted on: January 9, 2020
Barbee gives State of County at CEDA

Looking Back at 2019; Ahead to 2020

Posted on: January 8, 2020
Key inserted into door lock

Home Ownership Small Discussion Group

Posted on: January 2, 2020
Jim Barbee

Holiday Greetings from County Manager

Posted on: December 19, 2019
Wild Goose Bridge sits elevated on blocks over the V-line canal.

Wild Goose Bridge to be Re-installed

Posted on: December 13, 2019
Road shoulder repairs

Road Department Works to Improve Testolin

Posted on: November 14, 2019
Fire officials sworn in

Fire Officials Ceremoniously Sworn In

Posted on: November 13, 2019
Mosquito vial

Staying Vigilant Against Mosquitoes

Posted on: September 3, 2019
Pens and coins stacked on a piece of paper

Property Taxes 2019-2020

Posted on: July 10, 2019
Wood carving of a house with coins stacked behind it

Property Tax Cap Claim Form

Posted on: July 1, 2019