An environmental activist says a plan to expand the US Air Force test and training range in western Utah is nothing more than a land grab.
The proposed amendment to the Defense Authorization Act would add more than a thousand square miles to the Utah Test and Training Range. It’s sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch.
The parcels to be added to the range include the northeast part of the Snake Valley in Juab County as well as areas near Dugway Proving Ground and both north and south of I-80 in Tooele County
Members of Utah’s Congressional delegation have said in the past that support for the Utah Test and Training Range protects the future of Hill Air Force Base. But Steve Erickson, who’s worked on water issues and other military proposals in Utah’s West Desert, says it’s not necessary.
“I don’t think Hill’s in any danger," Erickson tells KUER. "We’ve heard a lot of, y’know, seen a lot of hand-wringing, heard a lot of rhetoric around, ‘Boy if we don’t do this or that or the other thing then Hill’s going to disappear.' Hill is pretty secure.”
The plan includes trading some state land within the Cedar Valley Wilderness Area with Utah’s State Institutional Trust Lands Administration for other parcels that could be made available for development.
Officials from the Air Force and Senator Hatch’s office briefed members of the Juab County Commission Monday afternoon at West Desert High School in Partoun. The senator’s office did not respond to KUER’s request for comment before our broadcast deadline.