BLM seeks public input on proposed expansion of Navy range | NevadaAppeal.com

BLM seeks public input on proposed expansion of Navy range

Staff Report

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment on two proposed withdrawal actions through two notices in the Federal Register related to a proposed expansion by the Department of the Navy of the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC).

Public comments will help identify issues to be addressed in the BLM's environmental assessment (EA) and the larger analysis effort being conducted by the Navy in association with their request for Congress to withdraw 769,724.34 acres of public lands in Churchill, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, and Pershing Counties, Nevada in aid of the expansion of the Fallon Range.

A public meeting will be held on June 19 from 5-7 p.m., at the Fallon Convention Center, 100 Campus Way in Fallon. The meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to understand the decision-making processes associated with public land withdrawals, in general, as well as the potential withdrawals discussed in these Notices.

Currently, the Navy has 202,859 acres of public land withdrawal that expires in five years. Originally, the Navy sought an addition of almost 670,000 acres of additional public and nonfederal land and expansion of Special Use Airspace. The Navy subsequently amended its original application by proposing an additional 92,482.45 acres of public land for withdrawal, 1,001 acres of non-federally owned lands for withdrawal if they ever entered Federal ownership, and cancellation and removal of 2,429.80 acres from the 2016 withdrawal request, bringing the total area proposed for withdrawal to 769,724.34 acres.

The FRTC is the premier range for training in naval aviation strike warfare. Strike warfare consists of using naval operations to destroy or neutralize enemy targets ashore. The evolution of modern combat systems has increased the need for larger areas to accommodate the tactical ranges that the Navy has determined are necessary to meet combat training requirements. All deploying naval strike aviation units train at FRTC before deployment.

Zip Upham, public affairs officer for Naval Air Station Fallon, said the modernization of the range to include ranges B-16 southwest of Fallon; B-17, the Dixie Valley Training Area, north and south of U.S. Highway 50; and B-20, northeast of Fallon and north of B-17. No plans are proposed for B-19, which is 30 miles south of Fallon and east of U.S. Highway 95.

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The Navy has applied to the Bureau of Land Management to continue to use the site of the FRTC midway 30 miles east of Fallon and to expand it by including more public land.

According to the Navy, today's advanced weapons systems already exceed the Navy's ability to train realistically at the 223,557-acre Fallon Range while also maintaining public safety.

While the decision whether to expand the footprint of the FRTC rests with Congress, public comments on issues that should be addressed in the environmental analyses and on the amended withdrawal application will help the BLM and the Navy move forward with the proposal development. Public input will be taken into consideration as the BLM and the Navy evaluate how the withdrawal could potentially affect other public land uses like mining, geothermal energy development, grazing, and recreation. Public comments will also help inform Congress.

With the recent publication of the notice of the Navy's amended application in the Federal Register 92,482.45 acres of public land will be segregated from all forms of appropriation under the public land laws, including those governing mining, mineral leasing, and geothermal leasing. This segregation will be subject to valid existing rights for two years unless the withdrawal application is denied or canceled, or Congress approves the Navy's withdrawal application for these lands, and the lands originally applied for in 2016, prior to that date.

The lands that are the subject of the notice of the Secretary of the Interior's proposed withdrawal are already segregated because of the publication of the Navy's withdrawal application in 2016, and today's amendment, and will remain segregated unless that withdrawal application is denied or canceled, or Congress approves the Navy's application, as amended, or the Secretary approves the withdrawal he is proposing for up to four years in order to assist in the evaluation process.

Licenses, permits, cooperative agreements or discretionary land use authorizations may be allowed during the period of segregation but only with the approval of the BLM's authorized officer and, as appropriate, with the concurrence of the Navy.

Publication of the notices in the Federal Register also initiates a 90-day public comment period. Comments on the Navy's amended withdrawal application, and the Secretary of the Interior's proposed withdrawal, including potential environmental consequences of each, should be received on or before Aug. 2, 2018. The BLM's EA and associated documents are located at the project website https://go.usa.gov/xQXTw Comments may be submitted using any of the following methods:

Email: BLM_NV_FRTC@blm.gov

Fax: 775-885-6147

Mail: BLM Carson City District, Attn: NAS Fallon FRTC, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, 89701

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in your comment, be aware that your entire comment — including your personally identifiable information — may be publicly available at any time. While you can ask the BLM to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, it cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

The Federal Register Notices are also available for review on the BLM-Nevada web page at https://www.blm.gov/media/federal-register.

For information, contact Project Manager Colleen Dingman at 775-885-6168 or cjdingman@blm.gov.