The greed of the U.S. military reminds me of the avarice of corporate America.
Whatever you give them, it's never enough. While Apple, Switch and Tesla stockholders enjoy the largesse of Nevada's taxpayers, they're still looking for more ways to fleece us and increase their profits. The military demands more and more of Nevada's natural resources, claiming national security is at stake—and they expect Nevadans to shoulder the burden of their land grabs and be glad of it.
The tide has yet to turn on corporate welfare in Nevada, despite constant reports of underperformance in agreed-upon metrics and a shocking lack of infrastructure planning to accommodate the thousands of people these companies attract despite their promises that the new jobs would primarily benefit existing residents. Our communities have been left to struggle with crowded roads and schools, a severe lack of housing and have been left without the taxes needed to pay for improvements. As conditions worsen, the blame game intensifies. Local and state officials point fingers at each other while the corporations pretend they're contributing their fair share to state coffers through inflated cost/benefit analyses that can't withstand the slightest scrutiny.
Nevada officials have been more united in opposing an arrogant and determined military that insists they can't possibly share training resources since each branch has unique needs. During the 2019 Legislature, resolutions were approved asking Congress to deny military expansion in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Nevada by the Air Force (AJR 2) and remove Bureau of Land Management public lands to add to the Navy's Fallon Range Training Complex (AJR 7). Governor Sisolak declined to take a position—on Public Lands Day, no less—telling the Nevada Independent that he has been meeting with generals and understands their needs.
The Air Force wants to remove more than 300,000 acres from the Desert National Wildlife Refuge to add to the 846,000 acres they already took from the Refuge, despite widespread opposition from lawmakers, the Moapa Band of Southern Paiute Indians, environmentalists and recreationalists. The Refuge provides critical habitat and protection for Nevada's desert bighorn sheep, our official state animal. The military's proposed expansion would threaten these iconic creatures while also eliminating public access and foreclosing on the possibility of a future wilderness designation, something that was recommended in the 1970s by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Closer to Reno, the Navy wants to withdraw more than 600,000 acres of public lands, closing off access to 360,000 acres, effectively barring hikers and other recreationalists. If they succeed, they'll control nearly 1,000 square miles in Churchill County, making it impossible to create Wilderness Study Areas there.
Friends for Nevada Wilderness offers many more details on the proposals at nevadawilderness.org. It's easy to get lost in the weeds but if you want to make sure Nevada's public lands are accessible and not bombed into oblivion by a greedy military, you should contact our federal representatives, especially the one least likely to listen, Congressman Mark Amodei.
It may feel like a waste of time to call or email our Congressman since he's made it abundantly clear he's not interested in constituent opinion, refusing to hold town halls or thoughtfully engage with voters who don't agree with him. But if his office doesn't tally calls against these massive land grabs, he'll conclude that no one cares. Create a public record of dissent by calling him at 686-5760 and emailing him at amodei.house.gov/email-me/.
Let Amodei and Sisolak know we're tired of Nevada being the military's playground, and we're sick of the bombing and destruction. Tell them Nevadans have given enough and the military should take their expansion elsewhere, or better yet, figure out a way to train that doesn't destroy our wilderness and rob us of our heritage and our peace.