Catherine Cortez Masto introduces a bill pushing back on military’s proposal to take over huge chunks of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Nevada Delegation, Led by Cortez Masto, Announces Introduction of Compromise Legislation to Protect DNWR & Modernize NTTR on Existing Lands:

"U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), along with Representatives Steven Horsford (D-Nev.-04), Dina Titus (D-Nev.-01), Mark Amodei (R-Nev.-02) and Susie Lee (D-Nev.-03), today announced compromise legislation, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and Nevada Test and Training Range Withdrawal and Management Act, that preserves the jurisdiction of the Refuge and boundaries of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) while also providing Nevada’s service members at Nellis Air Force Base and the NTTR the resources they need by supporting modernization requirements and accounting for increased public safety needs. If enacted, this legislation would create 1,310,806 acres of wilderness, the largest wilderness designation in Nevada history."



December 20, 2019 – “We are so grateful for Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s leadership in introducing a bill that pushes back on the military’s proposal to take over huge chunks of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge,” said Shaaron Netherton, Executive Director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness.

“Much of the Desert Refuge has been proposed as Wilderness since the 1970’s and this bill would make that designation formal,” Netherton continued. “We believe that Wilderness designation, the highest land protection in our country, will keep the military from making future grabs of the Refuge. This wildlife refuge has given enough for national defense.

While we would have preferred to see no additional lands within the Desert Refuge given to the military, we understand that Senator Cortez Masto is working to solve a complicated and difficult issue pitting a National Wildlife Refuge with national defense. We look forward to continue working with the Senator on language that strengthens wildlife conservation on the Desert Refuge. The fact that Senator Jacky Rosen is a cosponsor and our Nevada delegation is supportive tells us that Nevadans’ voices were clearly heard on this issue. We thank our representatives in the House and the Senate for supporting protection of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and pushing back against the military overreach into this wild landscape.”


Many groups and individuals, nationally, regionally, and locally came together in recent years to protect the Desert National Wildlife Refuge from military take-over. Hundreds of concerned Nevadans spoke up at public meetings against the expansion and nearly 30,000 public comments were submitted in opposition to the military’s proposal. Earlier this year, the Nevada Legislature in a bipartisan vote sent Congress a resolution (AJR2) strongly opposing the military’s proposed expansion. The battle extended beyond the state’s borders as national organizations recognized the tremendous threat to nationally significant wildlife habitat posed by a military take-over. (See the attached quote sheet.)


Overall, the Act would grant the U.S. Air Force less than one third of the public land they had asked to take over to expand the Nellis Test and Training Range north of Las Vegas and would ensure continued public access to recreation along the Alamo Road and in the entirety of the Sheep Range. It would deny the military its request for primary jurisdiction over all of the Refuge they currently co-manage with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provide for greater transparency and public input on management issues, and would require that Congress review the military operation on public lands in 20 years rather than the permanent withdrawal the military had requested.


Contact Shaaron Netherton at 775-750-6119

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