The Desert National Wildlife Refuge is one of the nation's largest, at about1.6 million acres. However, over half of the Refuge is closed to the public and managed jointly by the Fish and Wildlife Service and Secretary of the Air Force as part of the Nevada Test and Training Range (see map above). Within this restricted area of the Refuge, the U.S. Air Force has primary jurisdiction of nearly 112,000 acres of bombing impact areas (blue areas in the map above), but the Fish and Wildlife Service retains secondary jurisdiction over these areas. The draft NDAA language under consideration in Washington would offer the entirety of this restricted area - over 800,000 acres - to the Air Force, removing Fish and Wildlife Service jurisdiction altogether, and substantially reducing any consideration for wildlife in how the land is managed.
The photos below show how the 112,000 acres of existing bomb impact areas within the Refuge boundary are affected by military activities. If more land is handed over to military jurisdiction, you can expect more desert habitat to be destroyed.
|The red line added to this Google Earth image traces a string of bomb craters over 1.25 miles long, ending in a large disturbed area on the left hand side of the photo. This disturbance is in the Indian Springs Valley.|
|This is a Google Earth image of what appears to be a mock base constructed for training or target practice purposes in Three Lakes Valley, within a designated bomb impact area of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.|
- In California, the military can test and evaluate weapons systems at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station (over 1 million acres), Fort Irwin (over 640,000 acres), Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air and Ground Combat Center (recently expanded to over 680,000 acres), Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range (456,000 acres), and Edwards Air Force Base (over 300,000 acres).
- In Arizona, the military uses the Barry M. Goldwater Range - over 1 million acres - for training and live weapons use. The Yuma Proving Ground encompasses over 800,000 acres.
- In Nevada, the military already has access to the entire Nevada Test and Training Range, a total over over 2.9 million acres. It's not clear if this 2.9 million acres also includes over 1,300 square miles of the heavily impacted Nevada Test Site, where nuclear weapons were tested.
The square-shaped clearing alone is an area of bulldozed desert encompassing
over 1.8 square miles at Edwards Air Force Base, California. This is prime Mojave Ground Squirrel habitat.
The House and Senate are now debating the final language of the NDAA before it is sent to the President, who has threatened to veto the bill if it ignores his Administration's national security funding requests. It is appalling that Congress is opposed to designating new national monuments to protect our natural heritage, but it is willing to needlessly designate so much of America's beautiful landscapes as bombing ranges.
If you live in Nevada, sign this petition to urge your elected officials to oppose this unnecessary rider in the NDAA.
|Severe cratering from nuclear weapon testing during the middle of the last century at the Nevada Test Site, just west of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.|
|An early spring shower brings rain to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada.|