Notice of Intent -- Nellis Air Force Range Renewal (Legislative Environmental Impact Statement)


27050 Federal Register / Vol. 61, No. 105 / Thursday, May 30, 1996 / Notices


Notice of Intent To Prepare a Legislative Environmental Impact statement for Nellis Air Force Range (NAFR) Renewal, Nevada


DISCUSSION:

The United States Air Force (Air force) will prepare a legislative environmental impact statement (LEIS) to assess the potential environmental impacts of renewal of the Nellis Air force Range (NAFR), Nevada. The LEIS will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The current land withdrawal and reservation of the NAFR was established by the Military Lands Withdrawal Act of 1986 (Pub. L. 99-606) for the period ending on November 6, 2001. The Act provides that the Air Force may seek renewal of the NAFR withdrawal, in connection with which the Secretary of the Air Force will publish a legislative EIS addressing legislative alternatives and the effects of continued withdrawal.

The purpose of the proposed NAFR renewal is to retain a military training and testing range essential to near- and long-term preparedness of United States air forces. Renewing the land withdrawal will provide for the continued effective implementation of ongoing training and testing missions while maintaining the flexibility to adapt to the training needs of new technologies as they develop. The performance of air operations in combat is directly related to the quality and depth of training. NAFR provides a combination of attributes that serve this training requirement, including the following:

A range of alternatives, including the No Action alternative required by NEPA, will be considered. Three alternatives are described below:


Proposed Action

Renew Nellis Air force Range withdrawal and reservation for an indefinite period of time with Congressional review every 15 years. The existing land withdrawal and reservation, consisting of approximately 3.0 million acres, would be reauthorized for an indefinite period of time. The land would be reserved by Congress for use by the Air Force for an armament and high-hazard test area; training for aerial gunnery, rocketry, electronic warfare, and tactical maneuvering and air support; and other defense-related purposes. Every 15 years Congress would review the Air Force's continuing military need for the land, the environmental effects, and the needs of competing uses for the land and could adjust, if warranted, the terms and conditions of the withdrawal. Without limiting the priority use by the Air force, the land would be managed in part by the Bureau of Land Management and in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Specifically, the Bureau of Land Management would manage approximately 2.2 million acres of the NAFR pursuant to the Federal land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and other applicable laws. There remaining 826,000 acres of the NAFR are within the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and would be managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Act of 1976.


Alternative A:

Renew the existing NAFR land withdrawal and reservation for 25 years. The existing land withdrawal and reservation, consisting of approximately 3.0 million acres, would be reauthorized for a specified term of 25 years, rather than for an indefinite time with periodic reviews. Otherwise, this alternative is like the Proposed Action.


No Action Alternative:

No renewal of the NAFR land withdrawal and reservation. The land would not be reserved for use by the Air Force. The lands within the existing NAFR boundary would be managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service under existing authorities. The No Action alternative would result in the fragmentation or cancellation of training missions accomplished at the NAFR. DOD would prepare appropriate environmental documentation to obtain Federal Aviation Administration approval to reclassify the existing restricted airspace to a Military Operation Area (MOA). This would allow for air-to-air training operations to continue, but would preclude air-to-ground training missions.

To provide a forum for interested parties to provide comments on the scope of the LEIS, a series of scoping meetings will be held in six Nevada communities. In addition, written comments will be accepted throughout the scoping period. Written comments should be forwarded to: (schedule of meeting omitted)

Colonel Michael F. Fuquy
Nellis Air Force Base
P.O. Box 9919
Las Vegas, NV 89191-0919


If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Major Jeff Shea at (702) 652-4354.


Patsy J. Conner, Air Force Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. 96-13448 Filed 5-29-96; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3910-01-W


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