Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her opposition Tuesday to the planned military expansion into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge north of Las Vegas.
“I oppose military expansion into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge — we have a responsibility to protect these lands from environmental damage, and respect the communities and heritage they represent,” Warren said in a statement issued by the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund.
At issue is the Air Force’s plan to add more than 300,000 acres to the Nevada Test and Training Range. Most of it would come from the adjacent land at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, which provides habitat and protection for the iconic desert bighorn sheep.
Nevada state lawmakers recently passed a resolution opposing the plan. Environmental groups, off-road enthusiasts and tribal groups have also come out against the expansion.
The Moapa Band of Southern Paiute Indians similarly oppose the expansion and have issued a tribal resolution opposing the military’s plan.
“I believe we need true and meaningful consultation with Tribal Nations, especially regarding projects that could put important cultural and ecological sites at risk.” Warren said in a statement.
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge outside Alaska, with 1.6 million acres that stretch from the Mojave to the Great Basin Desert. It encompasses six major mountain ranges.
The military controls an even larger swath of land for its training facility, nearly 3 million acres in Clark, Lincoln and Nye counties.
Military officials want Congress to extend its ability to use the training acreage and add to the land the Air Force already uses. The Air Force already controls 846,000 acres of land in the wildlife refuge from a previous deal.
Patrick Donnelly, Nevada director with the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, said the group has reached out to dozens of campaigns over the last couple of months adding that presidential candidates “have a chance to really substantively affect the outcome of environmental issues in this state using their bully pulpits.”
“We are grateful to Senator Warren for being the first presidential candidate to show the courage to stand with Nevadans for our wildlife and our cultural heritage,” Donnelly said. “We need our congressional delegation to do the same.”