Washington, D.C. – Recently, 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 was crafted through consistent engagement and collaboration between conservation groups, outdoor recreation industries, farmers, ranchers, and local county and tribal governments to protect their interests should the U.S. Navy continue their push for an expansion of NAS Fallon. The legislation is supported by a wide range of Nevadans – including tribal leadership, county commissioners and environmental activists – whose statements are below.
“We thank Senator Cortez Masto for her leadership in crafting the Northern Nevada Rural Land Management, Conservation and Military Readiness Act,” said Jocelyn Torres, Nevada-based Senior Field Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation and Shaaron Netherton, Executive Director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness. “With this legislation, Senator Cortez Masto has struck the delicate balance among the competing priorities of protecting public lands for important wildlife habitat and cultural values, addressing some Tribal interests and making progress towards remedying historical injustices, and the vital training needs of America’s servicemen and women. We appreciate the complexity and size of the challenge Senator Cortez Masto has addressed with this legislation. It’s a vast improvement over the Navy’s proposal. The Senator’s proposal provides strong mitigation measures and holds the Navy accountable while it enhances rural economies, and maintains the quality of life of rural Nevadans…”
“Trout Unlimited is grateful to Sen. Masto for her continued leadership to protect and preserve our public lands,” said Pam Harrington, Trout Unlimited Nevada field coordinator. “She recognizes the importance of working together to find solutions that balance access to public lands, natural resource protection and conservation. Our public lands, such as the Ruby Mountains, are critically important to hunters and anglers, the regional economy and all Nevadans. We appreciate Sen. Cortez Masto’s work on the legislation related to the Northern Nevada Rural Land Management, Conservation, and Military Readiness Act.”
“The Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife (Coalition) hereby expresses our support for your proposed Northern Nevada Rural Public Lands Bill,” said the Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife, which includes Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Truckee River Flyfishers, Back Country Hunters and Anglers, Carson City Chukar Club, Nevada Waterfowl Association, Nevada Bow Hunters Association and Nevada Outfitters and Guide Association. “The Coalition represents big game, waterfowl, fishing, upland game, sporting dog, and trapping interests and is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of our wildlife resources while perpetuating our sportsman traditions. The proposed Navy expansion proposal will significantly impact wildlife and sportsman activities as well as a wide variety of ranching, mining, hiking, wilderness, off-road, and outdoor recreation in general. We all support our military and are committed to our national security, but must strive to strike a balance among all of these needs…”
“The Walker River Paiute Tribe’s reservation lands have been contaminated for decades by bomb testing activities at the Fallon Naval Air Station and it was high time for the tribe’s grievances to be addressed by our trustee, the United States,” said Amber Torres, Chairwoman of the Walker River Paiute Tribe. “Senator Cortez Masto has listened to our concerns, gave us ample opportunities to provide input, and her alternative solution in the Northern Nevada Rural Land Management, Conservation, and Military Readiness Act includes a just resolution for the Walker River Paiute Tribe…The Walker River Paiute Tribe has always believed in the importance of collaboration and the strength of finding a path towards healing. Moving forward, we will continue to advocate for protections for our cultural and natural resources and sacred sites. Resolution of our long-standing, historic grievances is a significant step in the right direction.”
“The Douglas County Economic Development and Conservation Act is included as part of the larger bill and would hold in trust culturally significant lands for the Washoe Tribe in Douglas County,” said Serrell Smokey, Chairman of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. “The Washoe Tribe looks forward to continuing to work with Senator Cortez Masto to ensure that the best outcomes can be achieved for the tribes of Northern Nevada, recognizing the continued needs for conservation and traditional tribal access.”
“On behalf of Douglas County, I would like to thank Senator Catherine Cortez Masto for her hard work on this bill benefiting northern Nevada,” said Barry Penzel, Chairman of the Douglas County Commission. “The bill includes the Douglas County Economic Development and Conservation Act, which has been a county priority for many years. This bill is critical for implementation of our Agricultural and Open Space Conservation Plan, for the protection of the riparian flood plain along the Carson River, and for planned economic development while assuring local input regarding land management decisions in Douglas County, which is overwhelmingly controlled by the federal government.”
“Senator Cortez Masto deserves credit for seeking pragmatic solutions to the public policy challenges posed by the Navy’s proposed expansion of the Fallon Range Training Complex,” said Pete Olsen, Chairman of the Churchill County Commission. “Churchill County appreciates her hard work in crafting the alternative proposal and especially her efforts to strengthen the mitigation and financial commitments critical to the County and impacted stakeholders. Churchill County will continue to engage with all interested parties to reach a legislative solution with all impacted stakeholders.”
The Senator’s legislation is also supported by the Pershing County Board of Commissioners, Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Nevada Conservation League and Nevada Bighorns Unlimited.