County solicits comments for military training area | NevadaAppeal.com

County solicits comments for military training area

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Churchill County planner Michael Johnson discusses the information on a map showing the Navy's proposed expansion. Commissioners conducted a meeting Wednesday on how residents may voice theire concerns to the Navy about future land withdrawal.STEVE RANSON / LVN
steve ranson / lvn |

With the news of the Navy’s proposal to acquire more public land for its training in the central Nevada desert, Churchill County has hired Resource Concepts Inc., to begin working with the public to obtain their feedback.

Churchill County Manager Eleanore Lockwood said RCI’s presentation at a special meeting Wednesday focused on the areas that could be impacted by the land acquisition including mines and mining claims, geothermal activity, wildlife and grazing allotment. The Navy first introduced its plan at a scoping meeting on Oct. 3 and is encouraging feedback from the community during this process that ends on Nov. 25.

The scoping period covers 90 days from when the process was first announced in late August

Zip Upham, public affairs officer for Naval Air Station Fallon, said an Environment Impact Study is for 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.

The Navy has applied to the Bureau of Land Management to continue to use the site of the Fallon Range Training Complex midway 30 miles east of the city and to expand it by including more than 600,000 acres of additional public land.

Jeremy Drew, who is RCI’s project manager working with the county, said it’s important for residents who have concerns to let the Navy know through their comments to the special FRTC website or through Churchill County.

Commission Chairman Pete Olsen said RCI would help identify potential conflicts with the proposed withdrawal.

“I had no idea on what is on some of the training complexes,” Olsen said.

Drew’s presentation gave a small group of concerned ranchers, recreationists and individual holding mining claims the tools and background they need to prepare thorough, complete comments. Drew said he was in Fallon to help guide individuals through the process, not to offer any details on the purpose of the proposal.

Drew said the Navy is beginning its process to formulate an Environment Impact Statement, which he said is, according to a definition he read from Wikipedia, “a tool for decision making. It describes the positive and negative environmental effects of a proposed action, and it usually also lists one or more alternative actions that may be chosen instead of the action described in the EIS.”

Drew reminded attendees this is part of the scoping phase, and it gives the Navy an opportunity to respond to concerns. In addition to Drew’s discussion, RIC also prepared six large maps placed around the commission chambers showing the various impacts and activities at the different ranges. To best understand the proposal, Drew encouraged the group to go to the FRTC website or check out the county’s or library’s websites.

Drew said comments would not be open-ended but should be specific and concise. He encouraged attendees to submit questions separately on each range that posed any concerns.

Rancher Charles Brown said he is concerned about the additional land withdrawal south and east of the present Bravo 17 range.

“Our winter grazing range will be wiped out,” he said. “Our family will be done. There is no other grazing to be had.”

Brown said his family grazes 300 cows in the winter.

“Brown hopes the Navy compromises because also affected in the area are habitat areas for the bighorn sheep and water-righted springs for grazing. The proposal also closes the road to the Fairview Earthquake Faults and the state highway that connects U.S. Highway 50 with the Denton Rawhide Mine.

Eric Clifford, a member of the Churchill County Wildlife Advisory Board, said the board hasn’t met to discuss the proposal. As a board, Clifford said they support the sportsman. Clifford said he also has questions about the extension of Bravo 17 and how many invaluable resources will be affected by the Navy. He said he has concerns with ranges in northern Dixie Valley that offer wildlife habitat.

Jay Lingenfelter said he has concerns about recreation, also around the southern perimeter of Bravo 17. He said the Fairview Peak area offers a huge run for people who ride ATVs and in northern Dixie Valley, people also use the area for recreation.