The first half of June included a notification that the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) had not moved forward with the Department of Defense’s Fallon NAS/ Nellis AFB training expansion request. There are a few reasons cited for the opposition, including the Nellis range impacting the desert tortoise and the Fallon range impacting the bighorn sheep. This is an example where the dedicated environmental groups are allied with the Off-Road community to achieve the same goal. That goal is to stop the removal of land from the public inventory. PMNTA does embrace many of the concerns cited, specifically around the damage to the wildlife and their habitat, however the focus of the Pine Nut Mountains Trails Association is to stop public land closures and restrictions in Douglas, Washoe, Lyon, Churchill, Mineral and Mono Counties.
Irrespective of the reason for the removal-
Public Lands are Public, Access is Access
Before we start our victory lap, there are only two possibilities as we move forward with the 2021 funding/withdrawal request.
- The House Armed Services Committee (HASC), accepts the non-inclusion from the SASC, and the inclusion for 2021 is dropped.
- The HASC includes the withdrawal and the House and Senate bills go to reconciliation between the chambers, with the inclusion for 2021 funding hinged on that process.
We cannot fall into a false sense of security on this issue, all the heavy lifting for the withdrawal has been done; and while this is struggling to make it out of the 116th Congress, everyone needs to understand that should we be successful during this session, it is probable that it will be included after the elections and the new Congress is seated.
PNMTA members and the club specifically worked to stop the expansion, including site visits with state and federal stakeholders, an aggressive letter writing campaign and attendance at the Navy’s public meetings.
We will keep a close eye on this to be sure that we are doing what we can to influence the decisions moving forward. PNMTA is prepared to counter those who may take advantage of this decision to push harder for a more restrictive designation of the targeted area by limiting access – under the guise of habitat or wilderness.