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Fallon Tribe Goes to Washington -- Asks for National Monument

Fallon Tribe Goes to Washington -- Asks for National Monument
Fairview Peak

Author: Kirk Peterson

In the ongoing conflict over the expansion of the U.S. Navy ranges in Churchill County, Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribal representatives spent three days in Washington, D.C. recently to introduce their idea of establishing a National Monument over nearly three million acres surrounding the NAS Fallon Range Training Complex. The Numu Newe National Monument would cover nearly 3 million acres and protect the ancestral home of the Paiute and Shoshone people and the area’s cultural and natural resources.

On March 21, Cathi Tuni-Williams, chair of the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, and Leanna Hale, the tribe’s director of land and water, along with their legal staff including Brian Chestnut from the Seattle, Washington law firm Ziontz Chestnut, presented their idea to top officials in the Biden administration. They also traveled to the Pentagon, meeting with the Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, Assistant Secretary Meredith Berger, as well as members and staff of Nevada’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) and staff of Rep. Mark Amodei (R). They met with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) in Nevada in early March before the D.C. trip.

“We’re playing off the President’s 30X30 plan and working with tribes on the indigenous lands and having them be co-stewards of these lands,” said Hale. “We have been talking to people and pressing on and gaining support, this fits right into his 30X30.”

When he was elected Biden issued an executive order establishing a national goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and freshwater and 30 percent of U.S. oceans areas by 2030.

The proposed Numu Newe monument would consist of public lands east of Fallon and adjacent to the four tribes’ reservations encompassing the Stillwater, Clan Alpine, August, and Desatoya Mountain ranges, as well as Job Peak, known to the Tribe as Fox Peak which Hale said is the Tribe’s origin site.

“We know that if we don’t find a solution,” said Leanna in response to the Navy expansion, “we may just end up with a big, fat zero. We want to protect lands that we can, our cultural sites, our spiritual sites, our burial grounds. We don’t have a cemetery our people were buried where they could.”

“We are part of this community, we grew up with the Navy,” said Tuni. “We know that we need to support our military, look what’s going in Ukraine. Our tribal members have served, past and present and some of them never made it back. It is such a fine balance that we are having to do here.”

Hale said the Tribe is thinking of the community as well, they aren’t preserving the lands just for the tribe. In their culture, no one owns the land. The community hunts and uses those lands as well, “Not just our people use, but it will be a preservation for all of us.”

The Fallon Tribe joins the Walker River Paiute Tribe, the Lovelock Paiute Tribe, and the Yomba Shoshone Tribe in requesting what would be the fifth national monument in Nevada, and the largest national monument dwarfing the 1.87-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

In response to the Tribe’s proposal, a U.S. Navy spokesperson said, "The Fallon Range Training Complex modernization is a critical priority for Navy training and readiness. It is essential to the Navy's ability to provide for our national defense, and to project power around the globe. The Department of the Navy is reviewing the Tribe's proposal and looks forward to collaborating with our tribal partners in Northern Nevada to address concerns associated with the FRTC modernization."

The Navy has been working since 2018 to expand the Fallon Range Training Complex and modernize its training facility to meet the needs of modern warfare, holding public scoping meetings across Nevada as part of the policy process. The Secretary of the Navy signed the Record of Decision on the Final Environmental Impact Statement in March of 2020, however, the Congressional request for expansion was denied in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Congress did approve the extension of the Navy’s current lease of 232,000 acres for another 25 years.

The modernization proposal seeks to withdraw up to 618,000 acres of additional federal land and acquire 65,000 acres of private or state-owned land saying, “Today’s technology has outpaced the current capabilities of the Fallon Ranges. The training ranges must be able to support how the Navy fights today, so personnel are prepared for the conflicts of tomorrow.”

NAS Fallon is home to the newest F-35 aircraft which the Navy says takes an entirely different space and area to maneuver than the F-14 and the F-18 jets that have flown over the Lahontan Valley for years.

During the 2019 Legislative Session lawmakers passed a bipartisan resolution opposing the proposal to expand the Fallon Range Training Complex.

Churchill County officials have worked toward mitigation efforts with the Navy that would include keeping certain roads open, keeping grazing permit holders whole, preserving recreation access in Dixie Valley, as well as legislation that includes a Churchill County Lands Bill to offset impacts from the Navy expansion and provide for economic development purposes.

The county officials declined to comment on the Tribe’s proposal saying through their Public Information Officer, “Any comment on this topic would come from the Board of Commissioners in a public meeting setting.”

As directed by Congress in the 2021 NDAA, the Navy has hired two full-time tribal liaison staff members to work directly with local Tribes as well as co-hosting with the Department of Interior an Intergovernmental Executive Committee “for the purpose of exchanging views, information, and advice” relating to the management of the lands withdrawn in that legislation. The IEC is made up of representatives from the Navy, DOI, the State of Nevada, six counties neighboring NAS Fallon, and 17 Indian Tribes.

Congressman Mark Amodei has worked with all parties involved in the Range Expansion for several years. He responded to the Tribe’s proposal for a National Monument by saying, “The Tribe has every right to take whatever position they feel is appropriate, and they have done so. As long as their position on the expansion of naval aviation’s critical training infrastructure continues to essentially be ‘we’re opposed,’ the need to continue to work on finding a balance between national security and cultural history will continue. This is not a great time to ignore the growing vulnerability in an important national security area, and I’ll continue to look for an opportunity to give the appropriate respect to the cultural resources of indigenous nations while allowing America’s naval aviators and SEALs to train to the highest standards. Clearly, we are not there yet.”

 


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Resident 04/08/2022 05:11 PM
Between this and a marijuana dispensary, the tribe has decided to destroy Fallon. Without the NAS, the economy here won't be the same. Once they build a recreational dispensary we will have the same crime problems as Reno. Time to move before property values drop.

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