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Air Force considers expansion of bombing range into Nevada wildlife refuge

Nellis Air Force Base is considering expanding its bombing range further into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge (Nathan O'Neal | KSNV)

Concern is growing about the future of a nationally protected wildlife refuge in Southern Nevada. The United States Air Force wants to expand its bombing and testing range into land already dedicated to preserving Big Horn Sheep and other wildlife.

The test and training range is located about 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas and already spans 2.9 million acres for military training exercises.

The Air Force is considering expanding its footprint so nearby Nellis Air Force Base can conduct more realistic military training exercises.

GALLERY | Desert National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Nevada

Visiting from Idaho, Mike and Suzanne Moore admire the land during their first visit to the refuge.

“It’s such a nice thing that they preserve this area and made it into a national refuge. It’s precious to this area, it really is,” said Mike Moore.

The refuge spans 1.6 million acres from mountain ranges to desert dunes.

“What’s at stake here is a potential military takeover,” said Jose Will of the conservationist group Friends of Nevada Wilderness. “As a result, this would basically remove 1.2 million acres from the Desert National Wildlife Refuge – which is about 75 percent.”

One possibility includes shutting down a section of the unpaved Alamo Road and expanding the military’s control of the land.

“They’ve proposed building runways on dry lakebeds and installing miles and miles of fence, building roads,” said Witt, adding that an expansion would also compromise wildlife, petroglyphs, and cut off access to the public.

“If we don’t protect it, it’ll be gone and future generations will not be able to enjoy this,” said Mike Moore.

The Air Force is holding several public hearings and seeking public comment through March 8.

You can read the full proposal online.

Scheduled Public Hearings:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 at Caliente Elementary School -- 289 Lincoln Street, Caliente, NV 89008
  • Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 at Pahranagat Valley High School -- 151 S. Main Street, Alamo, NV 89001
  • Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 at Aliante Hotel -- 7300 Aliante Parkway, North Las Vegas, NV 89084
  • Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018 at Beatty Community Center -- 100 A Avenue South, Beatty, NV 89003
  • Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 at Tonopah Convention Center -- 301 Brougher Avenue, Tonopah, NV 89049
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