On Friday, January 10, 2020, the United States Navy released their final Environmental Impact Statement to assess the potential environmental impacts of the proposed expansion of the Fallon Range Training Center in Churchill County. The document is the Navy's assessment of the environmental impacts of its plan to quadruple the size of the training complex.
The Navy held a public meeting on the final EIS in Fallon on Jan. 28. The meeting included poster stations staffed by Navy representatives and a presentation overviewing the final EIS, followed by an opportunity for the public to provide oral comments. There was over an hour of comments from individuals including members of multiple tribes, exploration geologists, rock hounds, local residents, and conservationists. There were no comments in support of the expansion as outlined in the final EIS.
Friends of Nevada Wilderness has reviewed the final EIS and has these comments in response.
Also, several members of the coalition fighting the proposed Air Force expansion into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge signed on to this letter outlining their opposition to the Fallon expansion, as well.
History of the Navy's previous actions and public involvement:
Your voice was heard…
In May, 2019 the Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Joint Resolution 7 - "Expresses the opposition of the Nevada Legislature to the proposed expansion of the Fallon Range Training Complex." The resolution was introduced by the Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining but a special thanks goes to Assemblywoman Peters for her work championing this resolution. A huge thanks to all of you who called, wrote and attended meetings at the legislature!
Click Here to read the final AJR 7.
The military had proposed to shut you out of more than 350,000 acres of valuable public land YOU own in order to expand the Fallon Naval Air Station bombing range across six counties in Nevada. Will you sign our petition asking your members of Congress to turn down this current proposal from the military?
According to the DRAFT EIS, the Navy’s Fallon Range Training Complex is seeking to withdraw and reserve for military use approximately 606,685 acres of public lands managed by the BLM - and closing 359,928 of those acres to the public. If successful, this will increase military-controlled lands in the area to nearly 1,000 square miles - quadrupling their area of control from 239,575 acres. Their proposal includes the elimination of 74,400 acres of Wilderness Study Areas in parts of the Clan Alpine Mountain, Job Peak and Stillwater Range WSAs. We think Wilderness designation is a better option for conservation AND the military! Rather than getting rid of portions of WSAs, urge the military to support full Wilderness designation for the five WSAs surrounding their proposed expansions.
This is military overreach. Please tell your elected representatives the Navy needs to come back with a measured proposal that protects national defense while preserving the resources we value in Nevada.
Friends of Nevada Wilderness has been working through the military EIS process sending in comments, attending meetings and meeting with the Navy. We hope to bring other stakeholders together to find a way to protect our Wilderness Study Areas and ensure public access.
Read more for details below.
Watch the Stealth Land Grab Video and see what's at stake! Produced by an advocate for Nevada Wilderness and Native Rights.
According to the DRAFT EIS, the military’s preferred alternative would:
- Eliminate 74,400 acres of Wilderness Study Areas in parts of the Clan Alpine Mountain, Job Peak and Stillwater Range WSAs.
- Eliminate nearly 31,000 acres of Lands with Wilderness Character (Stilllwater additions and South Job Peak)
- Eliminate public access to 18% (or 3,200 acres of the Fallon National Wildlife Refuge and to an extensive amount of land from the refuge north into Pershing County.
- Eliminate all recreation use on 359,928 acres of public land with the exception of some limited big game hunting and licensed OHV races.
Review the maps below to see how your public lands will be impacted. We must find a better solution for protecting our wildlands and public access.
For More Information:
FRTC | Navy-Fallon | www.frtcmodernization.com
1.) Review the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or at least the Executive Summary to learn the details of the military’s land grab proposal. The Navy’s Preferred Alternative 3 can be found on page 8. Click here to learn how to submit public comments by postal mail or online.
2.) Sign our petition here to the Nevada Congressional delegation urging them to stay active in this process. We could see an amendment or a congressional bill rider to expand the FRTC at any time so it is imperative that our Congressional delegation hears concerns from their constituents on this issue!
3.) Visit the wild places we could lose if the full proposal goes through. We need as many people as possible who have personally visited these places to provide public comment between now and Febuary 14, 2019. Personal experiences are going to be critical to saving these places! Below is a handy list of places that would be affected by the expansion. Click on each place to learn more about the area and how to visit. As always, feel free to call our office at 775-324-7667 with any questions!
- Instead of eliminating 74,400 acres of Wilderness Study Areas as part of their Dixie Valley Training Area, the military should support Wilderness designation for all of the WSAs within or very close to this area including the Clan Alpine Mountain, Job Peak and Stillwater Range and the Desatoya Mountains WSAs. Wilderness designation will provide a bigger and more complete buffer for the military actions, allow for continued public access, and be protected in perpetuity. This Wilderness buffer could also include lands with wilderness characteristics that Friends of Nevada Wilderness identified through our inventories (Stilllwater additions and South Job Peak).
- The military needs to at a minimum adjust their boundary proposals in B-20 to exclude the 3,200 acres of the Fallon National Wildlife Refuge. The 17,848-acre refuge was established by a Congressional Act in 1931 to "...provide a sanctuary and breeding ground for birds and other wildlife". It should not be part of a bombing area!
- The military needs to find a way to allow for more public access in B-17 at least on a seasonal or part time basis. The military has made some minor allowances for OHV races and bighorn sheep hunting but what about access for hiking, photography, rock hounding, camping. Why do OHVers and a person who happens to draw a bighorn sheep tag get special privileges. Where is the social justice for all?
2016 - From October 3rd-October 7th 2016, the FRTC held a series of public meetings to present the Alternatives and the proposal, as well as accept public comment. Thank you to everyone who attended these meetings and to those who submitted written comments in. The FRTC stopped taking public comment on December 12, 2016. The FRTC has published the following timeline moving forward.
November 2018 – LEIS prepared and available for public review.
December 2018 – Public meetings will be held throughout northern Nevada; LEIS draft revised considering public input.
November 15, 2018 - Final LEIS with revisions considering public input was released.
November 16, 2018 – January 15, 2019 – 60-day period for the public to provide comment on the analysis in the draft Environmental Impact Statement. This period includes the public meetings listed above.
Winter 2019/2020 - Final selection of an Alternative. After the Navy issues the record of decision and receives final Congressional approval, the Navy will begin implementation.
Nov. 2021 - Current Nellis withdrawal expires
Although Congress is not expected to make a decision on the LEIS until 2021, we could see an amendment or congressional rider to expand the Fallon Range Training Complex at any time. It is imperative these amendments or riders be removed from any bill that is introduced into Congress.
Wild Places Under Threat
The Stillwater Range Wilderness Study Area is a colorful area of rolling hills and rugged peaks. Photo by Kurt Kuznicki.
The Stillwater Range Wilderness Study Area includes roughly the central third of the Stillwater Mountain Range. The best scenic values are found in Hare and Mississippi canyons, with their colorful geologic formations and rugged terrain. The land is somewhat rolling, with no discernible timber line. The fault scarp on the east side is a result of the 1954 Dixie Valley earthquake. A few wooden buildings are still partially standing at the old mine site in upper White Cloud Canyon. Stacks of cut cord wood intended for use in the smelters at Coppereid, outside the WSA, can still be seen in some of the side canyons north of White Cloud Canyon. For more information, click here.
Job Peak Wilderness Study Area exemplifies the rugged and rough terrain of the west. Photo by Kurt Kuznicki
The Job Peak Wilderness Study Area includes the southern third of the Stillwater Mountain Range where elevations range from about 3,600 feet in Dixie Valley to 8,785 feet at the summit of Job Peak, the highest point in the Stillwater Range. The most interesting natural features are associated with the rugged canyons in the northeast portion of the area stretching from Coyote to Little Box Canyon. The northeast part of this WSA are best for hiking and camping due to the scenic canyons. Desert bighorn sheep, once native to the range but eliminated through poaching and diseases transmitted by domestic sheep which grazed the area until the 1940s, were successful reintroduced into the WSA in 1981. For more information, click here.
The Clan Alpine Mountains WSA is the perfect destination for solitude and adventure. Photo by Kurt Kuznicki.
The Clan Alpine Mountains Wilderness Study Area is rugged and mountainous. It includes Mount Augusta, the highest peak in the range, and several smaller peaks. It holds multiple winding, deeply dissected canyons and dozens more unnamed canyons. Hiking and camping, hunting and fishing, cross country skiing are the predominant recreational activities. From atop the Clan Alpine crest, the Sierra Nevada can be seen 100 miles to the west. Visitors are impressed by the rugged aspect of Horse Creek Canyon and the strange rock hoodoos of Deep Canyon. Horse creek and Cherry Creek support trout fisheries. Learn more here.
The Job Peak Lands with Wilderness Characteristics Units provide an essential piece to the vast wild lands hidden in this area. Photo by Will Boyer.
Job Peak Contiguous & South Job Peak Lands with Wilderness Characteristics units combine to create an incredible complex of diverse habitat and scenery. The sprawling landscape of the Job Peak units are dominated by alluvial deposits, washes, canyons, and tall bluffs with ancient lake lines. Colorful rocks occasionally outcrop, adding variety and interesting scenery. Higher elevations, which merge in the Job Peak Contiguous Unit, bring gradual changes to the ecosystem: sagebrush, rabbitbrush, pinion pines, and juniper trees blanket the hills, providing color and contrast to these rising lands. Within the canyons and colorful hills, silence is overwhelming. One can be immersed within the wilderness feel, the cares of the civilized world forgotten. It would be hard to achieve a greater sense of solitude than the outstanding opportunities found in this unit. The proximity of these units to the greater highlands of the Job Peak and Stillwater WSAs create an outstanding opportunity for immersion into a vast complex of wilderness and solitude. For more information on these areas, click here. To learn more about Lands with Wilderness Characteristics, click here.
The Stillwater Additions LWC unit provides endless vistas, solitude, and outdoor recreation galore. Photo by Will Boyer.
Rising to a single tall ridge, the Stillwater Additions Lands with Wilderness Characteristics unit bridges the gap between the Stillwater WSA and the Job Peak WSA. Covered in beautiful forest and extensive sage, the mountains forming this ridge are steep and beautiful. Deep canyons fall off to both the east and west, draining into the Dixie Valley and the Carson Sink respectively. Within these canyons brush is thick and greenery ever-present, while the mountains and ridges dominate the skyline. From the top, views are extensive and expansive in all directions, encompassing much scenic and desolate terrain. Many animals also call this region home, occasionally dipping down to the water for a drink. In these lands one gets a sense that nature is in control, and humanity is distant. For more information on this area, click here. For more information on Lands with Wilderness Character, click here.