For Immediate Release, July 13, 2022
Olivia Brister, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), (504) 400-3113, firstname.lastname@example.org
Victory for Nevada Lands, Wildlife: House Committee Rebuffs Proposed Military Land Grab
RENO, Nev.— Late on Tuesday the House Rules Committee declined to advance an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act from Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) that would have transferred hundreds of thousands of acres of public land to the military and private developers.
Amodei’s measure would have transferred 538,000 acres of public land in Nevada to partial or complete military control, including hundreds of thousands of acres for bombing practice. The amendment also would have allocated hundreds of thousands of acres of public land for sale to private developers and mining companies, while also authorizing a massive water grab for sprawl in Churchill County.
“Nevadans and people from across the country rose up this week and demanded accountability and transparency on this measure, which was never vetted with the public,” said Olivia Brister, environmental justice program manager at the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN). “Our public lands and water are for the public, not the military and mining companies. Now we need our elected representatives to make sure this destructive proposal doesn’t come back, and we need concerned Nevadans to continue to stand with us in this fight to protect this land.”
In 2021 Amodei introduced a bill containing similar measures, but it never received a hearing. This year’s amendment was quietly introduced last week for consideration by the House Rules Committee at this week’s hearing on the Act.
“I’m so pleased Rep. Amodei’s destructive threat to Nevada’s public lands has been stopped in its tracks,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This measure would have inflicted significant, permanent harm to wildlife. Nevada needs more birds, not more bombs.”
The Navy has long pursued an expansion of its Naval Air Station-Fallon, which already includes more than 200,000 acres of bombing ranges. The areas proposed for bombing range expansion include rugged desert mountain ranges home to bighorn sheep and extensive wetlands that provide habitat for migratory birds.
The proposal would also have harmed a critically important bird area at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, a stopover for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds on the Pacific flyway. Increased supersonic jet traffic flying at lower elevations would disturb migratory and overwintering birds, including Nevada’s densest concentration of bald eagles.
Amodei’s amendment also would have forced the Interior Department to approve a massive 16.5-billion gallon per year water grab, which would pump water 50 miles from remote Dixie Valley in central Nevada to Fallon to fuel new growth. A similar proposal in the 2004 Lincoln County lands bill engendered 16 years of conflict and litigation before that pipeline died in 2020.
“We’ve seen these dirty tricks before, and water defenders across the Great Basin are breathing easier because the Dixie Valley water grab won’t be moving forward with this measure,” said Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network. “Lands bills and water grabs go hand in hand in this state. We’re glad the committee didn’t take the bait.”
The National Defense Authorization Act still has many steps left before it becomes law, including floor votes in both the House and the Senate, and conference committee.
“We’re thrilled at this outcome, but we know this isn’t over,” said Brister. “We won’t rest on our laurels and will continue to advocate for justice for communities and the environment.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.