Frequently Asked Questions

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 did the Navy prepare an EIS?

  • The Navy prepared an Environmental Impact Statement, or “EIS,” to identify and assess the potential environmental impacts of modernizing the Fallon Ranges, in order to inform both the Navy’s own decision-making and Congress’ decision as to whether to withdraw public lands to renew and modernize the range.
  • The Navy prepared an Environmental Impact Statement, or "EIS," to identify and assess the potential environmental impacts of modernizing the Fallon Ranges.
  • The Navy evaluated 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, including input from the public, led to more informed decisions by both the Navy and Congress, and will inform any further Congressional decision-making with respect to the proposed modernization as well.

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 federal land and acquisition of non-federal land.
    • Airspace expansion and modifications.
    • Upgrades to range infrastructure.
  • The Navy would use the modernized Fallon Ranges to conduct aviation and ground training of the same general types and at the same tempo as currently authorized in the 2015 Military Readiness Activities at Fallon Range Training Complex, Nevada Final EIS. The Navy is not proposing to increase the number of training activities under any of the alternatives in the Final EIS. Rather, the Navy would redistribute training activities across the expanded ranges for more effective use of training space.

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

  • Current 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 to ensure the safety and success of service members in combat and maintain the safety of local communities.

5. Is the Navy still proposing to modernize the Fallon Ranges? Modernization was not included in 2021 legislation.

  • The Navy continues to support the proposed modernization of the Fallon Ranges, as the need is critical. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 extended the withdrawal of public lands currently comprising the Fallon Ranges for 25 years, but did not include the Navy’s proposed expansion and modernization. As directed by Congress, the Navy will continue to work in collaboration with stakeholders to develop a modernization proposal for future consideration.

6. 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 modernization 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, and livestock grazing, and limited water, salable mining, and geothermal development (west of State Route 121 with required design features). 
    • The Navy is proposing a bighorn sheep hunting program on the B-17 range compatible with training activities as described in the Draft Memorandum of Agreement, found in Appendix D (Memoranda, Agreements, and Plans) of the Final EIS. 
    • No mining would be allowed on bombing ranges, and most types of mining (with the exception of geothermal exploration) would not be allowed in the Dixie Valley Training Area due to the nature of training activities.

7. Why did the Navy choose Alternative 3?

  • The Navy selected Alternative 3 because it supports required training capabilities, reduces the amount of land required for withdrawal to the absolute minimum amount necessary to meet training and readiness requirements, and maintains public access to and use of lands in and around the modernized FRTC to the maximum extent compatible with the Navy’s mission.
    • The Navy developed and designed Alternative 3 based on stakeholder input and working with cooperating agencies and Indian Tribes.
    • Alternative 3 incorporates many components of an alternative suggested by the Governor of Nevada.
    • Alternative 3 supports the Navy’s request for a legislative proposal in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 for Congressional action and Presidential approval for renewal of the current federal land withdrawal and withdrawal of additional federal land to expand the range. It also includes the acquisition of non-federal land.
    • With the implementation of the modernization, the Fallon Range Training Complex significantly enhances the aviation and ground training for a wide range of mission capabilities into the foreseeable future. Modernization of the Fallon Range Training Complex allows the use of precision-guided weapons to their required capabilities by Navy aviators, and use of the full complement of weapons by Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) teams during ground training. It also protects the capabilities of the aviation electronic warfare range, and modifies existing special use airspace to accommodate the additional training capabilities created by modernizing the range complex.
  • In making its decision, the Navy carefully weighed its strategic and operational needs; potential impacts on the human, natural, and cultural environment; and comments from government officials and agencies, Tribes, and the public on the proposal and environmental analysis.

8. 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 #10 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. 

9. 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. 

10. 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.

11. 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; Indian Tribes; and the public during phases of public involvement and at stakeholder meetings. Some of these alternatives were to:
    • Continue training at the Fallon Ranges in the current configuration.
    • Relocate activities to other bases or ranges.
    • Reconfigure (resize or move) the boundaries of the Fallon Ranges.
    • Redistribute training activities within the Fallon Ranges.
    • Shift 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 Chapter 2 of the Final EIS.

12. Why can’t the Navy and Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base use one 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.


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

14. 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. 

15. 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.

16. 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 Training Complex modernization effort.
  • Navy safety measures are to:
    • Restrict public access from hazardous ordnance activities (fence off the Bravo ranges).
    • Ensure target areas are unoccupied prior to ordnance activities; ranges used for these activities would be closed and restricted from public use.
    • Conduct routine clean up and environmental stewardship of the training ranges.
    • Work with local communities on compatible land use development.

17. 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.

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

  • The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations, and Environment signed the Record of Decision identifying Alternative 3, the Navy’s preferred alternative, 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 (ICRMP), 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 Indian Tribes and the Inter‐Tribal Council of Nevada.
  • The Navy works closely with Indian Tribes on issues of mutual interest.
  • The Navy participates in a Programmatic Agreement with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Bureau of Land Management, 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 SHPO.
    • An amended Programmatic Agreement was signed March 3, 2020, by the Nevada SHPO, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Navy. Tribes have been invited to sign as concurring parties.
  • Management of proposed expansion areas would require updates to the ICRMP. If the Proposed Action is implemented, the ICRMP would be revised to include management practices for cultural resources in the expansion areas. The Navy would coordinate with BLM, Nevada SHPO, and affected Indian Tribes and consider whether additional management or monitoring activities can be incorporated. This coordination would include archaeological and tribal monitoring, as appropriate.
  • If the proposed modernization is ultimately approved by Congress, a replacement Programmatic Agreement and updated ICRMP would be implemented on existing withdrawn lands and lands requested for withdrawal and proposed for acquisition. The Navy would consult with Indian Tribes who attach religious and cultural significance to any Traditional Cultural Properties.
    • The Navy sent letters to Tribes and stakeholders in early June 2020 to initiate consultation concerning a replacement Programmatic Agreement. The plan and schedule for the development of the replacement Programmatic Agreement was shared with Tribes in January 2021.
  • The Navy also proposes to manage access through a Memorandum of Understanding with Indian Tribes who attach religious and cultural significance to sites within the Potential Impact Area.

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, Bureau of Land Management, 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.
  • If modernization actions are implemented, the Navy will revise its INRMP to include the expanded withdrawn and acquired lands. The Navy will coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Nevada Department of Wildlife when revising the plan and consider if additional management or monitoring activities should be incorporated.