RENO, Nev. – The U.S. Navy is holding the last public meeting Thursday night on the proposed expansion of Naval Air Station Fallon – which would quadruple the land it controls.
The Navy says it needs the land to better train combat aviators, but conservation groups are concerned about the impact live-fire bombings and overflights will have on public access and wildlife habitat.
Shaaron Netherton, executive director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness, says she appreciates the benefit to national security, but maintains the expansion should be scaled back.
“Outdoor enthusiasts, people who graze, rock hound, drive for pleasure, hunting, there’s a host of things that are going on on our public lands that people will be shut out of,” she states.
The meeting is at 5 p.m. in Reno at the West 2nd Events Center.
Other meetings already have been held in Fallon, Hawthorne, Gabs, Austin, Eureka and Lovelock.
The online public comment period on the environmental impact statement continues through Jan. 15.
The Navy says it wants to extend its range, not increase the number of exercises. However, Netherton worries about increased risk of wildfire.
“We’ve seen devastating fires just caused by a spark from people target shooting,” she states. “How is the military going to contain fires that start on their bases from all of the live ammunitions and bombing that they’re doing?”
Under the Navy’s preferred option, the base would expand to more than 1 million acres, including about 74,000 acres in three wilderness study areas: Clan Alpine, Job Peak, and the Stillwater Range.
The Fallon National Wildlife Refuge would also shrink by 18 percent.