weather icon Clear

Meetings set on proposed Navy expansion in Nye

The Navy will conduct public meetings in Gabbs in Nye County and Hawthorne in Mineral County this month to get feedback on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that assesses the potential environmental impacts of modernization of the Fallon Range Training Complex.

On Nov. 16, the Navy released a 1,536-page draft plan to withdraw more than 600,000 acres of public land in Central Nevada for expansion of a bombing range as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. A separate proposal to expand the Air Force’s Nevada Test and Training Range would bring the proposed withdrawal to 1.75 million acres of public land.

The modernization would include renewal of the Navy’s current public land withdrawal and land range expansion through the additional withdrawal of public lands and the acquisition of non-federal land. In addition, the Navy plans to expand and modify its airspace and upgrade range infrastructure.

The proposed expansion includes parts of Nye, Mineral, Lyon, Pershing and Churchill counties.

Proposed alternatives

In its environmental review, the Navy proposed four alternatives, one of which includes taking no action.

Alternative 1 calls for extension of the existing bombing range over a portion of Nevada Highway 839 near Hawthorne and part of the Paiute Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline. Under Alternative 1, the Navy would limit public access to the lands that have been requested for withdrawal. Some of the public uses that are currently allowed on those lands are grazing, hunting, mining, geothermal development, solar and wind energy development, off-highway vehicles, camping and hiking, according to the documents.

Under Alternative 2, the Navy would expand the Fallon Range Training Complex to the same extent as in Alternative 1 but would allow certain public uses within specified areas of several bombing ranges, when the ranges are not operational, according to the documents.

Alternative 3 would move the bombing range farther to the southeast, retaining access to Rawhide Mine, avoiding Fairview Peak, a popular spot for hiking and mountaineering in Churchill County, and providing increased access to Sand Springs Range.

Unlike under Alternatives 1 and 2, the Navy would not withdraw land south of U.S. Route 50. The Navy instead would allow Congress to categorize the area as Special Land Management Overlay created through withdrawal legislation.

This Special Land Management Overlay would define two areas as “military electromagnetic spectrum special use zones,” according to the documents. These two areas would be public lands under the Bureau of Land Management and would not be withdrawn by the Navy for land-based military training.

The zones would remain open to public access and available for all BLM-allowable uses such as grazing, hunting, recreation and mining. However, prior to issuing any decisions on projects, permits, leases, studies, and other land uses, the BLM would consult with the Navy, the documents said.

Conservationists’ concerns

The proposal has already drawn concern from conservationists. Basin and Range Watch, an environmental nonprofit, said on its website that bombing will affect sage grouse habitat, pronghorn habitat, bighorn sheep, and wilderness study areas.

The Center for Biological Diversity in Nevada released a statement where it said that the proposal would triple the size of Fallon Naval Air Station bombing ranges, “seizing land in the iconic Fairview Peak area and the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge.”

“The plan released today follows an earlier proposal to expand the Nevada Test and Training Range in Southern Nevada, which would take more than 1.1 million acres of Desert National Wildlife Refuge, currently managed to protect bighorn sheep and other wildlife,” the release said.

The Draft EIS is available for public review and comment. The comment period started Nov. 16 and runs through Jan. 15.

Comments can be submitted at https://frtcmodernization.com

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Vegas to Reno race draw drivers from as far as Australia

Brett Comiskey might have traveled thousands of miles to compete in Best in the Desert’s Vegas to Reno race, but he felt right at home in Southern Nevada.

Nye County included in oil, gas lease sale

An upcoming competitive oil and gas lease sale will include parcels in Nye County, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced.

Nevada Assemblyman Greg Hafen II to seek two more years in seat

Pahrump resident and Nevada District 36 Assemblyman Greg Hafen II announced this week that he will be seeking that seat in the 2020 election for what will be his first-ever official bid for office.

Wildfire tamed near northern Nye community

Firefighters tamed a 650-acre wildfire — believed to have been started Aug. 7 by lightning — near Nye County’s Gabbs community.

Nevada mining family strikes turquoise on reality TV show

The debut episode of reality TV series “Turquoise Fever,” set in the wilds of rural Tonopah, premieres Wednesday on the INSP Network.

Tonopah selected for cultural exchange program

Tonopah was recently selected to participate in a collaboration project with Carson City as part of the Nevada Arts Council’s Basin to Range Exchange Program that is aimed at bringing together urban and rural art organizations from across the state.

Renown and Blue Cross reach agreement on new contract

Reno-based Renown Health, one of Tonopah’s major providers of medical services, reached an agreement with one of Nevada’s major medical insurance providers.

New developments for health care in Tonopah

Tonopah recently received a new hospice program and is on track to get its first home health services.

Goldfield Days 2019 sweeps through Esmeralda County

Goldfield Days rolled through Esmeralda County in early August with hundreds of festival-goers stopping by the historic town.

Special event planned for Tonopah

Westercon 74, an annual West Coast Science Fantasy Conference is coming to Tonopah in 2021 after the town has recently won the right to host the event.