Commissioners learn of Assembly’s resolution on Navy range
LVN Editor Emeritus
The Churchill County Commission convened Monday morning for its second regularly scheduled meeting of April.
Although the agenda was short, County Manager Jim Barbee gave an update on key legislation that could affect Churchill County, Barbee also said the Nevada Assembly overwhelmingly voted last week on a resolution to oppose the expansion and modernization for the Fallon Range Training Complex, which the Naval Air Warfighting Development Center uses for training.
For the past year ending in February when the Churchill County submitted its final comments to the Navy, both the Navy and commissioners have conducted numerous meetings to gain additional input into the range modernization, and during December, Navy representatives visited seven cities affected by the expansion and delivered their assessment on which plan would be best for expanding the training range.
The proposed expansion, which was first introduced in August 2016, covers a five-county area and includes airspace, land ranges and electronic systems used primarily for air and ground training activities. The Navy also proposes to renew existing public land withdrawal of 202,859 acres that expires in November 2021.
Barbee said the committee first voted to oppose expansion followed by the full Assembly. He said the State Senate is expected to discuss the Fallon expansion. Assembly Joint Resolution 7 is nonbinding as is AJR 2 that affects the U.S. Air Force.
The Assembly also opposes any expansion for Nellis Air Force Base east of Las Vegas. In AJR 2, lawmakers oppose expanding the test and training range into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, which sponsors say is the largest wildlife refuge in the contiguous U.S.
Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen, D-Las Vegas, said public lands should remain in public hands.
Barbee said expansion concerns first came under a public lands issue from the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining committee. Both Barbee and Commissioner Bus Scharmann said although the county has sent the Navy its concerns about certain aspects associated with the expansion, Churchill County is supportive of the U.S. Navy and its training requirements and wants to be a good neighbor.
During the meeting, commissioners also heard from Ken Collum, field manager, for the Stillwater Field Office, Carson City District of the Bureau of Land Management. He gave an update on BLM projects throughout the county. In September, Collum said the BLM will handle 53 geothermal lease sales in the district, 40 of them in Churchill County.
Over the Easter weekend, he said 2,502 people used the Sand Mountain Recreational Area, but he noted the death of one person who suffered a severe injury and was evacuated by helicopter from Sand Mountain. He had no other information.
In other agenda items, commissioners also reappointed Erick Blakely to a four-year term on the Planning Commission; approved a proclamation recognizing April as National County Government Month; went into closed session to discuss negotiations with the Churchill County Sheriff’s Deputies Association, Sergeants’ Unit and Dispatchers’ Unit; approve liquor licenses for Mama Daughter’s Café and Sellways Corp., DBA Weathervane Auction House; approved to purchase two properties held in trust by the county treasurer; discussed more county support for the Nevada Day Parade; approved an affidavit of mailing delinquent tax notices; approved health insurance renewal for employees and retirees at an additional cost of $81,000; and approved a modification of the job description for the county’s Building Official and to begin recruiting immediately for the position, which will be vacated by Cliff Van Woert, who is retiring.