Navy wants to quadruple land for Fallon Naval Air Station training

U.S. Air Force members from the 169th Fighter Wing and South Carolina Air National Guard are...
U.S. Air Force members from the 169th Fighter Wing and South Carolina Air National Guard are deployed to Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada Fallon to support Naval Carrier Air Wing One with pre-deployment fighter jet training, integrating the F-16’s suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) capabilities with U.S. Navy fighter pilots. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson)(KOLO)
Published: Sep. 2, 2016 at 9:27 PM PDT
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The Fallon Naval Air Station will increase public land used for training by about four times to about 1,262 square miles under a proposal released this week.

The U.S. Navy is asking for an additional 604,789 acres and to renew the use of 202,859 acres. It scheduled seven meetings in Nevada to discuss the proposal, including Oct. 3 in Fallon and Oct. 4 in Reno.

The Navy said it began reviewing its training ability at the Fallon Naval Air Station in 2014.

“The analysis showed that the size of the Fallon Ranges severely restricts the types of weapons that can be used, which limits training realism and effectiveness,” it wrote. “These limitations leave aircrews and special operations forces unable to fully train, compromising their safety and success in combat.”

Newer aircraft require more training space, the Navy said.

“The boundaries of the Fallon Ranges have not changed to accommodate for the capabilities of modern weapons,” the Navy wrote. “Modern weapons can reach targets at greater distances than ever before, but current range boundaries limit this type of training. Expanding the range boundaries would allow military personnel to train in a realistic, and in some instances 360-degree, combat scenario.”

So it is asking for additional land. Congress must sign off on expanding the land used by the base. It appears it will involve buying privately owned land, for which the Navy said it will offer fair-market price.

Churchill County Manager Eleanor Lockwood said the base, which has a good relationship with the county, first notified them of the proposal on Aug. 26. Churchill County commissioners are scheduled to formally review the proposal at its Sept. 21 meeting and they are expected to have it reviewed by Resource Concept Inc. of Carson City, which is under contract to the county to review these kinds of studies.

RCI is expected to help Churchill County understand impact the expansion has, Lockwood said. For example, what restrictions will be imposed on the land for recreation, ranching or mining.

She called it the first major expansion of the military range.

Churchill County Commissioner Harry "Bus" Scharmann is looking forward to getting more information about the proposed expansion.

“We want to look at this closely,” Scharmann said. “The Navy and Churchill County have been good partners and we always try to work closely with them.”

According to the information provided by the Navy, the base contributed $517 million in economic activity in a three-county area in 2015 and had a payroll of $84 million.

“The base is huge. That’s how I put it,” Scharmann said. “Our economy centers around the Navy base and agricultural.

“In my mind, in the last seven years when we have had a drought and a slowdown in the economy, the thing that has been a major stabilizing factor has been the Navy base,” Scharmann said.


Meeting schedule
Monday, Oct. 3
3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Fallon Convention Center
100 Campus Way
Fallon, NV 89406

Tuesday, Oct. 4
11 a.m. to 1  p.m.

Pershing County Community Center
820 Sixth St.
Lovelock, NV 89419

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Evelyn Mount Northeast Community Center
1301 Valley Road
Reno, NV 89512

Wednesday, Oct. 5
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Emma Nevada Town Hall
135 Court St.
Austin, NV 89310

Thursday, Oct. 6
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Eureka Elementary School Multi-Purpose Room
431 McCoy St.
Eureka, NV 89316

Friday, Oct. 7
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hawthorne Convention Center
950 E St.
Hawthorne, NV 89415

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Gabbs School Gymnasium
511 E Ave.
Gabbs, NV 89409