The Goshute reservations in Utah’s West Desert are among the closest communities to the training range used by Hill Air Force Base – and the tribes are concerned about how a proposed expansion of the range might affect their economic development.
The Air Force is proposing a 700-thousand acre expansion of the Utah Test and Training Range to accommodate the new F-35 fighter jets that will operate out of Hill Air Force Base.
Paul Tsosie, an attorney representing the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation in Ibapah, says one concern they have is the impact new land restrictions and flight operations might have on the sale of hunting licenses for reservation land. They’re an important source of revenue for the community, and Tsosie says the federal government can’t take action that affects them without consulting the tribe.
Tsosie tells KUER, “Our hunting rights are guaranteed under the United States Constitution, under the treaty clause of the United States Constitution, so that’s the supreme law of the land.”
The expansion is contained in an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill sponsored by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. Hatch says the Goshutes need to be included in the planning.
“That’s an important tribe in our state and they should be treated with great respect," Hatch tells KUER. "The way we’ve worked it is so that nobody loses, but that Utah gains a great deal by getting this done right.”
Goshute leaders, though, say they’ve had only minimal contact with Utah’s Congressional delegation on this issue. They’ve invited Air Force officials to the tribal council meeting in Ibapah on November 7th to learn more.