Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) introduced legislation to allow the U.S. Air Force to place vital training equipment for the Nevada Test and Training Range within small tracts of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The bill would also permanently protect over 700,000 acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness to ensure those lands remain accessible for hunting, recreation, and wildlife management. Allowing the placement of electronic threat emitters is a top priority for the U.S. Air Force because they will provide pilots with realistic air combat training to combat threats they would encounter in a potential conflict with a near-peer adversary, and successfully complete their mission.
“Nevada’s vast public lands are critical for our military training facilities, and we should work together to strengthen our national security while also protecting these landscapes,” said Senator Cortez Masto.
“Nevada is home to our nation’s premiere military installations and training ranges, in addition to some of the nation’s most pristine public lands,” said Senator Rosen. “I have been working with stakeholders on this proposal to strike a balance that meets the national security needs of the U.S. Air Force while at the same time protecting Nevada’s public lands and wildlife. And I will continue working to see that we include these provisions in this year’s annual defense bill.”
The proposal would:
- Ensure the U.S. Air Force can provide pilots with realistic air combat training by installing 15 threat emitters on Air Force-managed land and within certain areas of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.
- Protect the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s access to land managed jointly with the Air Force to ensure hunters and wildlife managers can continue recreation, annual bighorn sheep hunts, conservation, and other wildlife management activities.
- Establish permanent protections and protect public access to 736,000 acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge by designating it as wilderness.
The legislation also includes critical public lands proposals for Southern Nevada, including provisions from Cortez Masto-led bills to allow industrial businesses to expand in North Las Vegas and protect the region’s water supply by building a critical new water pipeline.