Advocating for the Preservation of Desert Wildlands
It is a liberation of the soul to see for miles in each direction; to feel your insignificance in a desert expanse, surrounded by life so much stronger than you; to relish a cloud's shadow and accept with humility the sun's rays. The desert will wrestle with your demons and free your calm. The desert's silence and beauty will lure peace back into your heart.
The Department of Defense's recent request to close off additional public lands in Nevada is simply unreasonable in light of the vast amount of land already available to the military for testing and training purposes. The military is preparing to ask Congress to expand two of its test and training ranges in Nevada by as much as 1,416 square miles, including portions of popular public lands outside of Las Vegas.
The military has not explained why the 21,000 square miles of existing test and training ranges throughout the southwestern states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico are not sufficient (this total does not count other training ranges in other states and the Pacific Ocean, or smaller military facilities in the southwestern states). At this early stage in the environmental review process, the military has only explained that expanding the Nellis Test and Training Range (NTTR) would “improve the range’s capacity to support testing and training.” For the prop…
The Department of the Air Force is proposing to withdrawal an additional 301,507 acres (approximately 471 square miles) of public land to expand the already-massive Nevada Test and Training Range. The proposed withdraw will likely involve restricting public access and degrading important wildlife habitat, including lands in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge near Las Vegas, and also parcels in the upper Amargosa Valley north of Beatty, Nevada (see map below). This effort is separate from proposed legislation currently sitting in Congress that would withdrawal even more land from the Refuge.
The Air Force is in the initial stages of its environmental review process, and will be sharing more details about its plans at public scoping meetings in October. However, a study conducted for the Air Force and published online earlier this year suggests the Air Force wants greater flexibility to place ground targets in lands in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. It is not clear why the e…