Land withdrawal, airspace modifications and land aquisition that will come with the expansion of the Fallon Naval Air Station could have a negative impact on Nye County, commissioners said in a letter to Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest.
Nye County commissioners approved a draft letter providing Nye County’s preliminary scoping comments of concern related to expansion of federal agency land withdrawals for Fallon Naval Air Station and U.S. Air Force land and an associated Legislative Environmental Impact Statement (LEIS).
The Navy seeks to renew its existing arrangement for 202,859 acres in addition to seeking another 604,789 acres of public land for military use to expand the current range. The Navy also wants to acquire another 65,160 acres of non-federal land.
The proposed land withdrawals and changes to airspace and flight activities will continue to have an adverse impact on the residents and government activities of Nye County, officials said.
“Nye County appreciates the opportunity to participate in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and is providing these preliminary scoping comments for consideration by the Department of the Navy as it begins a process for modernization of the FRTC in Nevada. I am writing today to formally request a 60-day extension for the scoping process, which is currently scheduled to close on November 25, 2016,” Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone said in the documents.
Nye County’s public lands historically allowed for mining, ranching, oil and gas development, recreation and other activities that have a positive socioeconomic impact on the county and local communities.
The continued restriction on access or use of these public lands will have an adverse impact on jobs and tax revenue for the county and towns, officials said.
The letter included comments on public health and safety, socioeconomic and infrastructure impacts, and airspace operations impacts.
The direct impacts of lost economic opportunities resulting from agency land withdrawals continues to affect Nye County’s ability to support critically-needed emergency services, officials said.
Nye County and its northern communities currently have no ability to provide health services to military or civilian personnel at Fallon Naval Air Station after Nye Regional Medical Center closed its doors in August 2015.
The medical campus located in Tonopah is the only facility within 100 miles. Emergency services are staffed by volunteers from Beatty to Gabbs.
Additionally, the proposed withdrawal will restrict access to public lands for mining, recreation, geothermal, oil and gas exploration, and potential water resources, according to the documents.
“Increasing the acreage of the Fallon Naval Air Station land withdrawal will reduce Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) revenues to Nye County. The proposed range expansion will also remove private lands and tax revenue from Nye County,” officials said in the documents.
The proposed land withdrawal also will eliminate Nye County’s Hot Springs Road, several established minor county roads, and private roads in the Gabbs area that provide access to private lands, public lands, as well as lands with known geothermal resources, oil and gas potential, and historic cultural resources.
“This land withdrawal will have potential impacts on projects that are in the planning stages and early permitting process, including the multimodal corridor with Interstate 11 and the rail and electric transmission infrastructure that transverses the southern end of this withdrawal from Pole Line Road to Fallon,” officials said.
Nye County is concerned about the negative economic impact to surrounding communities from additional withdrawals of the land as most recreational attractions are related to hunting, fishing, camping, and rock hounding, as well as ATV exploring.
Nye County officials also urged the LEIS to identify and disclose the nature and extent of the noise impacts to Nye County communities and residents, including livestock at ranch operations.
“This land withdrawal is just one of many federal actions that continues to contribute to restricted access to private lands and multiple use of public lands in Nye County,” officials said in the documents.
They said that a rigorous evaluation of the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the proposed action and policies are a prerequisite to sound decision making.