Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the Fallon Range Training Complex?

  • The Fallon Range Training Complex (also referred to as the “Fallon Ranges”) is the Navy’s premier aviation training range and is used to train aviation and ground military units. 
  • Airspace and land ranges are used by the Navy and other military services for air and ground training, including live-fire training. 
  • The complex is made up of 12,256 square nautical miles of special use airspace and approximately 232,000 acres of Navy-managed land near Fallon, Nevada.

2. Why is the Navy preparing this EIS?

  • The Navy is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement, or “EIS,” to identify and assess the potential environmental impacts of modernizing the Fallon Ranges. 
  • The Navy is evaluating potential impacts in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, or “NEPA,” a federal environmental law. 
  • NEPA requires federal agencies to examine the potential environmental impacts of their proposed actions on the environment. The analysis of impacts, as well as input from the public, lead to a more informed decision by the Navy.

3. What is the Navy proposing to do?

  • The Navy is proposing to modernize the Fallon Ranges. Modernization would include:
    • Renewal of the current public land withdrawal 
    • Land range expansion through additional withdrawal of public lands and acquisition of non-federal land 
    • Airspace expansion and modifications
    • Upgrades to range infrastructure
  • The Navy is not proposing to change the level or type of training from what is currently stated in the 2015 Military Readiness Activities at Fallon Range Training Complex, Nevada Final EIS. Activities would be redistributed across the expanded ranges to allow training to occur at the same time for more efficient use of the training space.

4. Why is the Navy proposing to modernize the Fallon Ranges?

  • Newer-generation aircraft and weapons technology have outpaced the current size and configuration of the Fallon Ranges. Aircrews and special operations forces are unable to train in sufficiently-realistic conditions, which compromises their safety and success in combat.
  • The proposed modernization would provide more realistic training capabilities while maintaining the safety of local communities.

5. Why does the Navy need so much land?

The amount of land needed by the Navy is driven by two factors: 1) the land and airspace needed to meet current and future training requirements, and 2) the minimum safety requirements designed for aviation and ground weapons training, as represented by weapons danger zones and surface danger zones. 

  • Training Requirements. To ensure Navy personnel are properly trained for success and survivability in air combat, the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) conducted a comprehensive study of the land and airspace needed to meet combat training requirements for modern aircraft and weapons systems at the Fallon Ranges. The study, called the Ninety Days to Combat Required Training Capabilities Study, identified gaps in the capabilities of the Fallon Ranges to meet current and future training requirements. The Navy’s proposed modernization of the Fallon Ranges would close training capability gaps to “tactically acceptable” parameters, but not full compliance with identified Tactics, Techniques and Procedures developed for training by NAWDC. (See FAQ #8 below.) 
  • Safety Requirements. Weapons danger zones and surface danger zones represent the minimum safety requirements for aviation and ground weapons training to protect public health and safety. The sizes of the respective danger zones reflect how much land is needed to ensure safety.
    • A weapons danger zone is a three-dimensional area that encompasses the ground and airspace for the horizontal and vertical containment of projectiles, fragments, or debris resulting from aviation-delivered ordnance. 
    • A surface danger zone is similar to a weapons danger zone, but relates to ordnance used during ground training, such as small-arms weapons. 

6. Why can't the Navy use munitions that require less of a safety zone?

  • Military personnel must train in the manner in which they will engage in combat in order to reduce the loss of lives
  • The types of weapons used in combat are the same types of weapons with which military personnel must train. The required sizes of weapons danger zones are determined using sophisticated computer modeling tools based on the weapons used during training. The size of weapons danger zones being proposed is necessary to ensure the safety of the public at all times.
  • The Navy employs both live and inert weapons in training to maintain aircrew proficiency in weapons delivery. Inert (non-explosive) practice bombs are used extensively, but the Navy considers training with live weapons to be indispensable to achieving and maintaining combat readiness. 

7. Why is Alternative 3 the Navy's preferred alternative?

  • Alternative 3 is the Navy’s preferred alternative because it best meets the purpose of and need for the Proposed Action while allowing the greatest amount of compatible public land access and use, thereby reducing potential environmental impacts. 
  • The Navy understands the importance of public access for commercial and recreational uses. 
    • The Dixie Valley Training Area would continue to be open for certain public uses, such as recreation, hunting, livestock grazing, salable mining, and geothermal development (west of State Route 121 with required design features). 
    • The Navy is proposing a bighorn sheep hunting program on specified areas of the Bravo-17 range during a two-week period compatible with training activities. 
    • The Navy’s preferred alternative (Alternative 3) allows for more access to areas with higher potential for mineral resources such as the Bell Mountain, Fairview, and Gold Basin mining districts. 
    • No mining would be allowed on bombing ranges, and certain types of mining would not be allowed in the Dixie Valley Training Area due to the nature of training activities.

8. Why isn't the Navy requesting the amount of land needed to reach full training requirements?

  • The Navy considered an alternative that would fully meet the tactics, techniques, and procedures as described in the Ninety Days to Combat Required Training Capabilities Study. While this alternative would meet the purpose of and need for the Proposed Action, the Navy determined this alternative to be not feasible because of the expected impact on the region.
  • Under this scenario, the expanded ranges would be capable of meeting training requirements and allow forces to train in a realistic 360-degree combat scenario. However, implementation would require nearly double the land as that required for the Proposed Action, as well as extensive revisions to airspace and additional road rerouting. 
  • Rather than pursue such a scenario, the Navy evaluated gaps in air and ground training capabilities against the real-world physical constraints of fully meeting tactics, training, and procedures. The Navy developed revised requirements, called “tactically acceptable” parameters, which could support suitable training while considering these constraints. Tactically acceptable parameters do not represent the full capability recommended in the Ninety Days to Combat study, but were deemed acceptable by the Navy for training purposes.

9. Has the Navy looked at options other than expansion?

  • As part of its planning process, the Navy conducted a thorough evaluation of potential alternatives, including some suggested by federal, state, and local agencies, tribal governments, and the public during the scoping phase and during stakeholder meetings. Some of these alternatives include:
    • Continuing training at the Fallon Ranges in the current configuration
    • Relocating activities to other bases or ranges
    • Reconfiguring (resizing or moving) the boundaries of the Fallon Ranges
    • Redistributing training activities within the Fallon Ranges
    • Shifting target areas and associated danger zones
  • For each potential alternative, the Navy examined whether the proposed scenario and concept would be feasible and would meet the purpose of and need for the action, as well as screening factors. This evaluation is included in the Draft EIS.

10. Why can't the Navy and Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base use on range?

  • The Navy considered numerous alternatives to move aviation and ground training activities in whole or in part to other Department of Defense installations and ranges within the continental U.S. and abroad, such as Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Nevada Test and Training Range, and Utah Test and Training Range.
  • While these installations and ranges could support some training, their current missions would effectively deny the Navy the necessary capacity to support the required level of training unless: (1) the activities currently conducted at these locations were displaced, or (2) these ranges were significantly expanded. The Navy has determined that these two options are not reasonable.

11. Would training increase under Alternatives 1, 2, or 3?

12. What does land withdrawal mean?

  • A “land withdrawal” removes an area of federal land from settlement, sale, or entry under some or all of the general land laws, e.g., by disallowing access for potential mining exploration and development. 
  • Land withdrawals are usually intended to limit activities and reserve the area for a particular public purpose or program. In this case, the withdrawal would be to reserve land for military use. 

13. How would the Navy acquire private property?

  • The Navy would offer fair market value to purchase non-federal lands.
  • The Navy would make all efforts to acquire these properties through a mutually agreeable transaction. If necessary, the Navy might seek to acquire properties through eminent domain.

14. How can you ensure public safety during training activities, including those using explosives?

  • The safety of the public and military personnel is of utmost importance to the Navy. The Navy uses sophisticated computer software, data analysis tools, and standard operating procedures to ensure ordnance activities remain at safe distances from the public. 
  • Ensuring a more realistic training environment and adequate safety margin for the public is a primary driver behind the current Fallon Range modernization effort.
  • Navy safety planning includes:
    • Restricting public access from hazardous ordnance activities (fencing off the bombing ranges)
    • Ensuring target areas are unoccupied prior to ordnance activities; ranges used for these activities would be closed and restricted from public use
    • Conducting routine clean up and environmental stewardship of the training ranges
    • Working with local communities on compatible land use development

15. Why is training with explosives necessary?

  • Military personnel must train realistically in the manner in which they will engage in combat (by practicing the appropriate tactics, techniques, and procedures) in order to ensure mission success while reducing the chance of loss of life. 
  • Handling explosives is a highly perishable skill. Practice is necessary to ensure safety and combat proficiency. The safe and successful employment of weapons systems in a realistic training environment demonstrates that pre-deployment forces are ready for combat and improves readiness and survivability.

16. How long does this process take?

  • The EIS is expected to be completed in 2020
  • The proposed withdrawal of federal lands would begin in the event that Congress ultimately decides to authorize a given withdrawal scenario. Congress’ decision in this regard is anticipated in 2020. 
  • The proposed acquisition of any non-federal lands would likewise begin only in the event that Congress authorizes a given withdrawal scenario and authorizes and appropriates funds for this action (including such proposed acquisitions as identified by the Navy). This decision is also anticipated in 2020. 

17. How do I participate in the decision-making process?

  • Public involvement is an important part of the NEPA process, and the Navy encourages the public’s participation. Input from the public, government agencies, and tribal governments allows Navy decision makers to make more-informed decisions. Several opportunities were available for the public to participate. 
  • The Navy sought public input during the scoping process (Aug. 26, 2016, through Dec. 12, 2016).  Seven public meetings were held to inform the public about the Proposed Action and solicit public comments on the scope of the analysis and viable alternatives.
  • The public was invited to review and comment on the Draft EIS from Nov. 16, 2018, to Feb. 14, 2019. The Navy held seven public meetings from Dec. 10-13, 2018, to inform the public about the proposed modernization and the results of the environmental impact analysis. The public was encouraged to submit substantive comments on the analysis during this period. The Navy appreciates all of the comments received.
  • The Navy is reviewing and considering public comments for the development of the Final EIS, expected to be released in fall 2019. NEPA regulations provide a 30-day wait period after the Final EIS is public before the Navy may take final action. 

18. Who decides on the alternatives and the implementation of the Proposed Action?

  • The Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations, and Environment will sign a Record of Decision identifying any alternative selected by the Navy for presentation to Congress.
  • Congress must approve any land withdrawal before any alternative can be implemented.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration is the decision maker on all airspace proposals. 

19. What does the Navy do to protect cultural resources found on Navy-managed land?

  • The Navy has prepared various cultural resource management plans, including an Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plan, to protect and manage the cultural resources at the Fallon Ranges. The Navy also employs a cultural resources manager to coordinate with state and federal agencies and federally recognized tribes.
  • The Navy works closely with local tribes on mutual interests. 
  • The Navy participates in a Programmatic Agreement with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office, BLM, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to identify, evaluate, and treat historic properties on Navy-managed land. This agreement ensures protection of cultural resources and promotes coordination between the Navy and the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office.

20. What guidelines does the Navy follow to protect natural resources at the Fallon Ranges?

  • Under the Sikes Act, the Navy is required to implement an Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) and has done so for the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources. The Navy has professional natural resource managers on staff to manage the natural resources at the Fallon Ranges.
  • The management strategies provided in the INRMP have been developed in cooperation and concurrence with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, BLM, and Nevada Department of Wildlife, and help to ensure the balance of military readiness activities with natural resources management. The INRMP includes management programs for:
    • Land
    • Forests
    • Aquatic and terrestrial habitat
    • Special natural areas
    • Wildlife
    • Pests
    • Wildland fire
    • Outdoor recreation and agricultural outleases
  • The Navy would manage any new withdrawn or purchased lands in accordance with these guidelines.