Mineral and Nye County residents met in Hawthorne to discuss the Fallon Range Training Complex Modernization Environmental Impact Statement.
The proposed action to modernize the Fallon ranges for training would include “renewal of current public land withdrawals; land range expansion through additional withdrawal of public lands and acquisition of non-federal land; airspace expansion and modifications and upgrades to range infrastructure.”
At the Dec. 10 meeting, Capt. David Halloran, commanding officer of the Fallon Range, explained in a video shown, “At this point, we are to train like we fight. We have to be able to utilize our assets to the maximum extent as possible. The last thing we would ever want to do is send people into harm’s way unprepared.”
The types of training at the complex include air warfare; strike warfare; electronic warfare; naval special warfare; joint forces training; expeditionary warfare and tactics and weapons courses, such as TOPGUN, TOPDOME, etc.
Halloran complimented Hawthorne on its continued support of the warfighters, past and present. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a town that is more patriotic than Hawthorne.”
“This is not something that the Navy wants to do,” he explained. “This is something that we are required to do. Because we in the Navy are required to make sure if our people are going into harm’s way, they are properly trained prior to that happening. We never know when the next major conflict is going to happen so we have to prepare ourselves for it.”
“The bottom line ‘why’ is because we haven’t been properly training over the last 10 to 30 years,” Halloran told the residents. “
The current naval bombing ranges are limited to training in both the air and on ground, which limits the training scenarios to what “might” happen in actual combat. With the expansion of the ranges, the ability to meet full tactics, techniques and procedures can be met.
Poster boards were set up with subject matter experts on hand to help residents move through the proposed training expansion.
Halloran explained that the Navy noticed the lack of training during the Gulf War when older training no longer fit the needs of modern combat.
He explained the reason for such a large expansion is that even though weapons have evolved, his main concern is safety for those under his command and the public who surround the areas.
Touching on the topic of Interstate 11, Halloran stated, “We have no effect on where Interstate 11 is going. We are all for Interstate 11 coming through Hawthorne, we are all for Interstate 11 going through Fallon. Because I know for a fact, that the mass majority of supplies that NAS Fallon receives comes out of Las Vegas. So Interstate 11 will benefit Hawthorne and it will benefit Fallon.”
He voiced his opinion to U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, coming through Hawthorne and Fallon.
Rick Niedzwiecki, Todd Connelly, Doris Brooks and Thomas McNeill gave public comments regarding such topics as economic needs, the Monte Cristo mountain range, land near the Gabbs airport, water quality and the possibility of sonic booms. Though no one could comment on their public statements, each was recorded on the record for later review.
The purpose of the meeting was to not only inform the public of the possible impacts that the proposed mitigation will affect, but the Navy is also identified the following as potential environment impacts: geological resources; land use; mining and mineral resources; livestock grazing; transportation; airspace; noise; air quality; water resources; biological resources; cultural resources; recreation; socioeconomics; public health and safety and protection of children as well as environmental justice.
The Navy requested that the public review the draft environmental impact statement be reviewed and that residents comment.
A closer look
- All public comments either made at the meetings or written will be incorporated into the final environmental impact statement. A copy of the draft environmental impact statement is available to the public, including at the Mineral County Library and Gabbs Community Library.
- Comments can be made online at www.FRTCModernization.com or by mailing to Naval Facilities Engineering, Command Southwest, Code EV21.SG, 1220 Pacific Highway, Building 1, 5th Floor, San Diego, CA 92132. The final environmental impact statement is anticipated to be released in the fall of 2019 and the Record of Decision in the winter of 2020.