Nye secures voice in proposed Navy expansion into northern county

The U.S. Navy is asking Nye County for a point of contact and a signed non-disclosure agreement after it invited the county to become a cooperating agency in the proposed Navy expansion in northern Nye.

Nye County sent a letter requesting a cooperating agency status for the Fallon Range Training Complex modernization environmental impact statement that’s being prepared by the Department of the Navy.

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.

In the Dec. 20 letter, the U.S. Pacific Fleet agreed that Nye County possesses “special expertise” with respect to environmental impacts associated with the current land use as it affects Nye County, including private lands and tax revenue from current land uses, public access to include mining, recreation, oil and gas exploration and access to water resources, and use of public roads that could be impacted by the proposed action.

In that letter, the Navy also invited Nye County to become a cooperating agency on the Fallon Range Training Complex modernization environmental impact statement.

Officials, however, said Nye County can’t use Nevada Association of Counties as its representative. Nevada Association of Counties is the entity that represents all of Nevada’s 17 counties.

“United States Pacific Fleet views Nye County’s participation as an important element to the successful completion of the environmental planning process for the Fallon Range Training Complex modernization environmental impact statement,” Navy officials said in a letter. “Nye County has asked that the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) be designated to act as a representative for the county. However, because NACO is not a state or local agency or governmental entity, the U.S. Pacific Fleet respectfully declines your request for NACO to serve as the County’s representative as cooperating agency for the FRTC modernization EIS.”

At the commission’s meeting on Feb. 7, County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman, who represents that area, asked the board to consider her as the point of contact and asked if the county could enlist the help of MaryEllen Giampaoli, environmental compliance specialist.

“I’m not in a position to write up the EIS (environmental impact statement) documents, however, she has (done it) for many years,” Wichman said.

“Giampaoli has prepared many, many evaluations of similar EIS’ in the past, it is painstaking and takes a mountain of hours to comb through all of the EIS documents and prepare comments. It is conceivable that the task could be as much as $30,000,” Wichman said.

Wichman also asked the board to sign the non-disclosure agreement with an addition to the language in the agreement to reflect non-disclosure only to the extent that it recognizes open meeting laws in Nevada statutes.

A non-disclosure agreement is a requirement of obtaining cooperating agency status and most important to protect Fallon Naval Air Station training and national security strategies.

Fallon Naval Air Station has undertaken the task of providing language in the agreement to recognize the public nature of an elected officials position with regard to non-disclosure, Wichman said.

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

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