"This bipartisan effort will help add critical safety, security and planning buffers to White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss, and it will play an integral role in accomplishing their national security missions," said Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. Working with him on the bill are Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and John Cornyn, R-Texas.
Heinrich said the bill's intent was to ensure that the installations have the best circumstances for training and testing. The bill would transfer 5,100 acres from the BLM to the Army to provide what the senators said was a critical safety and security buffer to NASA's White Sands Test Facility and the Department of Defense's Aerospace Data Facility. Both are tenants of White Sands Missile Range.
Another 2,050 acres in Fillmore Canyon would be transferred from the Army to the Bureau of Land Management to create a boundary that is more clearly identifiable to the public to prevent accidental trespass onto Fort Bliss.
The final component of the bill would preclude the BLM from selling or exchanging 35,550 acres in order to prevent incompatible development for the Fort Bliss Dona Ana Range Complex and Training Areas that include some of the Army's premier large weapons system firing ranges and artillery firing boxes.
The senators said this land would still be accessible to the public for recreation, grazing, transportation, and other existing uses. Read more