Congressman Steven Horsford Leads the Nevada Delegation in Introducing an Amendment to Protect Jurisdiction of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Increase Tribal Access and Ensure our National Security
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Steven Horsford (NV-04), Dina Titus (NV-01), and Susie Lee (NV-03) introduced Horsford Amendment 342 which preserves primary jurisdiction for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and increases access to the Refuge for Tribal communities and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The legislation will also establish an intergovernmental committee to improve range management while ensuring our brave service members at Nellis Air Force Base and the Nevada Test and Training Range can train safely and effectively to ensure our national security.
“For over 80 years, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge has been a vital sanctuary for Nevada’s plant and animal life. Its pristine and unaltered landscapes hold significant cultural and historical value to our state,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “Today, I’m proud to introduce an amendment that echoes Nevadans’ opposition to military expansion and safeguards our state’s rich wildlife habitat. While we continue to find a unique balance of conservation and a strong national defense, this amendment will continue to support military training activities under the Air Force. As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, I remain steadfast in the fight to protect and preserve the Refuge for our future generations to enjoy.”
“The amendment put forward by the Nevada delegation would reverse the clear threat to over 840,000 acres of unique plant and animal habitats in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge while enhancing tribal access and ensuring military readiness. We simply cannot allow the largest wildlife refuge in the contiguous United States to be decimated,” said Congresswoman Dina Titus. “I will continue to work with the Nevada delegation and House leadership to ensure that the Desert National Wildlife Refuge is protected for future generations to enjoy and explore.”
“I have said since day one that the needs of Nevadans must be central to decisions about the future of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, which is just what our amendment calls for,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee. “This amendment protects Nevada’s vital 800,000 acre sanctuary and ensures our Air Force has the resources and training capabilities it needs to keep our country safe. I will continue working with my fellow Nevadans and my colleagues in Congress to conserve our pristine public lands, strengthen our national security, prioritize Nevada’s Native American communities, and most importantly, put the needs of Nevadans first.”
The legislation was developed in response to a recent amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
Horsford Amendment 342:
- Continues to include no expansion of the existing range and increases access for Tribes and the Fish and Wildlife Service, while clarifying that the Fish and Wildlife Service will remain responsible for managing refuge lands under the Refuge Administration Act.
- Removes the dispute resolution provision entirely. This will return dispute resolution to the status quo, under which interagency conflict is elevated through the executive branch.
- Removes all reference to co-management, in favor of management coordination. This includes a clear statement that the Secretary of the Interior has administrative jurisdiction over Refuge lands, the Secretary of the Air Force has primary jurisdiction over bombing impact areas, and that the Refuge is managed subject to the Refuge Administration Act, returning management to the status quo.
- Ensures that all Air Force activities on the Refuge will be in compliance with the Refuge Administration Act, including the activities requested by the Air Force.
- Ensures the updated memorandum of understanding (MOU) is subject to all clauses of the current MOU, including guarantees that Refuge lands will be managed under the Refuge Administration Act.
- Expands the definition of affected Tribes to ensure all Tribes with historical connections to the range lands will be able to weigh in on their management.
- Expands the Interagency Executive Committee to include roles for officials from the State, the State wildlife management agency, sportsmen’s organizations, NGOs, and other stakeholders, keeping in line with Sen. Cortez Masto and Rep. Horsford’s proposal.
- Guarantees increased access for the Fish and Wildlife Service for a minimum of 54 days per year.
- Certifies existing air space agreements to prohibit over-flights of the Corn Creek Visitor Center.