Nevada Chapter comments on Fallon expansion

On February 14th the Navy located outside of Fallon, Nevada closed its comment period regarding its military expansion. The chapter understands that as our military technology increases to meet the demands of today’s battlefield, so must their need to train with those weapons. The need for our military to be prepared and well trained before entering combat is vital to our country’s safety. However, one of the great things that sets our country apart from the rest of the world is our public lands and our freedom to recreate on them.

With the requested withdrawal of 700,000 acres, the proposal has raised concerns with our members. Specifically the potential closing of 3,000 acres currently in the Fallon National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge system is vital for waterfowl hunters in our state and offer the best public land hunting opportunity in the area for sportsman and women to pursue their passion. The additional proposed land withdrawal that includes a bighorn sheep hunting unit is also concerning. The chapter is also in concert with the Nevada Department of Wildlife in voicing our suggestion that the Navy allow additional opportunities for hunting pronghorn antelope, mule deer, and small game on an opportunistic basis.

The largest concern the Nevada chapter of BHA has is how wildlife management will be handled both within and outside of the land effected by the Fallon expansion. Designating current Wilderness Study Areas that are not included in the withdrawal into Wilderness may seem like a simple solution but our concern is how this will affect NDOW’s effectiveness in maintaining their current wildlife management strategies. These management strategies include accessing and repairing water guzzlers that may require vehicle access. Access that would be denied if the area is designated Wilderness.

BHA members prize the tradition of a Wilderness hunt, as well as the typically high-quality habitat it provides wildlife due to lack of development and fragmentation. We would like to see a stakeholder group work out which areas are best suited to a Wilderness designation and which with another protective Congressional designation such as an National Conservation Area. This procedure has been successfully accomplished in several similar situations and has become known as the Nevada way.

About Russell Kuhlman

California/Nevada Chapter Coordinator for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

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