Wednesday October 7th, 2020

Cortez Masto Announces Alternative Text for Naval Air Station Fallon Expansion, Northern Nevada Lands Bills After Consultation with Nevada Stakeholders

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released a draft of the Northern Nevada Rural Land Management, Conservation, and Military Readiness Act, which includes land management bills for Churchill, Pershing, Douglas and Lander counties and an alternative proposal for the expansion of the Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon. This proposal, intended for consideration in the final version of the FY2021 National Defense Reauthorization Act (NDAA), allows NAS Fallon to continue training service members for today and tomorrow’s national security challenges while also prioritizing recommendations and input from conservation groups, outdoor recreation industries, farmers, ranchers, and local county and tribal governments in Pershing, Douglas, Lander and Churchill counties. This proposal also includes Senator Cortez Masto’s previously introduced bills to prohibit oil and gas development in the Ruby Mountains and to create a national veterans cemetery in Elko. 

“In order to best support our military and local economies, while preserving our public lands and sacred tribal sites across Northern Nevada, I’m releasing a comprehensive, pragmatic Northern Nevada rural public lands package. This alternative to the Navy’s expansion proposal will meet the needs of service members who serve at NAS Fallon, while also prioritizing recommendations and input from conservation groups, outdoor recreation industries, sportsmen, farmers, ranchers, and local county and tribal governments in Pershing, Douglas, Lander and Churchill counties. It also ensures the protection of the Ruby Mountains, and the establishment of a National Veterans Cemetery in Elko to honor our fallen veterans from across rural Nevada. This proposal will protect our public lands, invest in our rural communities and maintain our commitment to America’s national security.”

More information on her proposal can be found here, in an op-ed the Senator penned for the Nevada Appeal.


Senator Cortez Masto’s alternative proposal is the direct result of conversations with Nevadans, key stakeholders and the United States Navy. Overall, this proposal protects more than 585,000 acres of wilderness by establishing, among other measures, three new National Conservation Areas, protecting designated sage-grouse habitat, and creating ten new wilderness areas. The full Northern Nevada Rural Land Management, Conservation, and Military Readiness Act proposal includes the following legislation:

  • Naval Air Station Fallon and Churchill County Alternative Land Management Proposal
    • Facilitates the Navy’s request to expand military readiness and training activities on the B-16, B-17, and B-20 Ranges in the Fallon Range Training Complex.
      • Requires the Navy to allow and manage access on select withdrawn lands for game hunting, outdoor recreation, geothermal development, grazing, mining and flood management.
      • Includes an agreement between the Navy and the Interior Department to ensure proper protections are put in place before the Navy can access any of the newly withdrawn lands.
  • Directs the Navy and Interior to ensure tribes have access to withdrawn lands around the Fallon Range Training Complex in order to care for sacred sites.
    • Provides the Walker River Tribe with $20 million in compensation for previous ordinance contamination and loss of their reservation lands.
    • Establishes tribal protection areas for the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe at sites of religious and cultural significance.
  • Creates an Intergovernmental Executive Committee to provide local, state, and tribal governments a public forum to collaborate with the military on the management of natural and cultural resources.
  • Conveys land to Churchill County for economic growth opportunities.
  • Requires the Navy to provide direct payments and other mitigation to impacted mining claims, grazing allotments, and water rights holders.
  • Douglas County Economic Development and Conservation Act
    • Provides federal land for use by the County for flood control, water infrastructure, parks, trails, public recreation enhancement, and other public uses.
    • Establishes a process for the sale of 60 acres of federal land through a joint-selection process.
    • Provides for the conveyance and management of 2,669 acres to be held in trust for the Washoe Tribe, including within the Dance Hill Management Area.
    • Promotes the management of sage-grouse habitat by designating nearly 12,400-acres of the new Burbank Canyons Wilderness area.
    • Conveys 67 acres to the State of Nevada to be managed within the Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park.
  • Lander County Land Management and Conservation Act
    • Conveys over 1,000 acres to the county to improve Austin Airport, Kingston Airport, and Battle Mountain Airport.
    • Conveys over 4,000 acres to the county to improve access to water resources throughout the county and 240 acres to the county for a museum, historical society, and business development.
    • Protects public access to public lands and off-road vehicle recreation spaces.
  • Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act
    • Creates a process in which checkerboard land can be sold or exchanged. The county would be able to nominate parcels among the land already identified for sale or exchange by the BLM’s 2015 Winnemucca Resource Management Plan.
    • Authorizes the sale of specific mining lands for fair market value, increasing the county’s limited tax base to help provide essential county services and directing land sale revenues to be used for local conservation projects and acquisition of environmentally-sensitive land.
    • Designates 136,000 acres of wilderness and releases 48,600 Wilderness Study Area acres into federal multiple-use purposes.
  • Ruby Mountains Protection Act
    • Withdraws approximately 309,000 acres of National Forest System district land comprising the Ruby Mountain Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest from any eligibility for oil and gas leasing under the Mineral Leasing Act.
    • Protects all existing multiple uses in the area including recreation, grazing and mining.
  • Elko National Cemetery Act
    • Authorizes the transfer of land from the Bureau of Land Management to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs needed to construct the Elko Veterans Cemetery for use as a national cemetery to serve veterans across northern Nevada. 



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