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County requests voice during military expansion discussions

Nye County officials want their voice to be heard in the proposed military expansions in the northern and central parts of the county.

At the Dec. 20 meeting, county commissioners requested “cooperating agency” status with the Fallon Naval Air Station expansion and the Nellis Air Force Base expansion.

The Navy seeks to renew its existing arrangement for 202,859 acres at the Fallon Naval Air Station in addition to seeking another 604,789 acres of public land for military use to expand the Fallon Range Training Complex. The Navy also wants to acquire another 65,160 acres of non-federal land.

“Nye County requests cooperating agency status with nearly every federal action,” Nye County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said. “Nye has experienced various degrees of success as a cooperating agency.”

If the cooperating agency status is granted, officials want to have the natural resources staff of the Nevada Association of Counties represent Nye County for the duration of the cooperating agency status, as part of the memorandum of understanding, according to the documents.

Some of the potential roles of Nye County include arranging for the collection and assembly of necessary resource, environmental, social, economic, and institutional data; analyzing data; developing alternatives; or carrying out other tasks necessary for the development of the environmental analysis and documentation.

“Should you decide to grant this request, Nye County is happy to help assist entering into a Memorandum of Understanding to establish cooperating agency status in the planning and (National Environmental Policy Act) processes so that we may work together under the terms of the agreement,” Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone said in the letter to the Bureau of Land Management and Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest.

Also at the same meeting, Nye County Commissioners ratified the letter providing Nye County’s preliminary scoping comments and request for a 60-day extension of the scoping process for the Legislative Environmental Impact Statement for the Nevada Test and Training Range military land withdrawal at Nellis Air Force Base.

Increasing the acreage of the training range land withdrawal will reduce payment in lieu of tTaxes revenues to Nye County, and will continue to preclude the local revenue streams that could be generated from development and exploitation of known resources that these lands would support if not withdrawn for exclusive military use, officials said in the documents.

“The (Legislative Environmental Impact Statement) must consider, quantify, and evaluate the direct, indirect and cumulative economic impacts to Nye County that will continue as a result of the continued withdrawal of land,” Carbone said in the documents. “This withdrawal will restrict access to public lands for mining, recreation, geothermal, oil and gas exploration, and potential water resources.”

A direct impact of the training range land withdrawal is the continued removal from production of 32 mining districts in Nye County, according to the documents.

Officials said if these districts were accessible for development and exploitation by private interests, Nye County would receive a needed fiscal benefit. Among them are Eastern Goldfield, Scotty’s Junction, Yucca Mountain, Cedar Pass, Silverbow, Clarkdale, Jamestown, Mount Helen, Wellington, and others.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

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