Located in central Nevada in Churchill County, near the city of Fallon, Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon has a unique mission to prepare all U.S.-based carrier air wings to work as a cohesive unit prior to deployment. NAS Fallon is home to the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (including TOPGUN classes) and VFC-13 Desert Outlaws, an adversary squadron. With the longest runway in the Navy at 14,005 feet, NAS Fallon provides unique training and tactics development capabilities, extensive instrumentation and target sets, and live ordnance impact areas. The Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC) consists of four bombing ranges (B-16, B-17, B-19 and B-20), 34 associated military training routes (MTRs), 234,000 acres of Navy-controlled land, and 6.5 million acres of land under restricted or military controlled airspace, with a total of 13,000 square miles of Special Use Airspace. 80% of the air-to-ground ordnance used in Navy training is expended at the FRTC, and the B-20 range is the only location in the U.S. where the Navy can practice with Joint Direct Attack Munitions. In addition, with an estimated $573 million annual economic impact (Fiscal Year 2008), NAS Fallon represents a significant component of the economy for Churchill County and central Nevada.
The Navy and surrounding communities have made significant progress to protect the Air Station from incompatible development. An excellent relationship exists between NAS Fallon and community leaders. Despite successful efforts to purchase conservation easements through the Range and Environmental Protection Initiative, and local efforts to direct urban development away from the Air Station, growth pressures remain, and protection efforts have not focused on the ranges and MTRs. Renewable energy (especially geothermal) development poses a possible challenge to ensuring compatibility, with a significant portion of the nation’s geothermal potential found in Churchill County. Other challenges include a potential cargo airport and expanded rail service to the region; competition for water resources; lack of awareness among the general public of the mission and importance of NAS Fallon, possibly leading to erosion of existing protections against incompatible development; and noise complaints in areas such as Dixie Valley, beneath the supersonic range and a network of MTRs.
To address these challenges, the Navy nominated NAS Fallon as a candidate for the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) Program in 2011. Churchill County serves as the local sponsor for the JLUS, with the City of Fallon, Paiute-Shoshone tribal government, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and others as key stakeholders and participants. Neighboring counties such as Mineral, Nye, Pershing, Eureka, Washoe, Lander and Lyon may be engaged as well to address MTRs and airspace issues. Projected completion of the JLUS is December 2013.
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