Regional
11:08 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Heinrich Bill To Expand White Sands Missile Range Passes Senate Committee

Credit Senator Martin Heinrich (D) New Mexico
  A bill co-sponsored by Senator Martin Heinrich to expand White Sands Missile Range has passed an important Senate committee. Heinrich, along with Senators Tom Udall and John Cornyn, introduced the bipartisan proposal in April, which represents a three-party agreement between the two military installations and the Bureau of Land Management. Executing each part of this agreement through legislation will help facilitate the important work done by the military and NASA at White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss, and will provide a comprehensive and enduring buffer for the total mission set in Doña Ana County. Senator Heinrich said:

“This expansion to White Sands Missile Range is critical to strengthening its vital national security mission. Establishing safety, security, and planning buffers at White Sands and Fort Bliss will also provide predictability for these two military installations and the communities that surround them. I will continue to lead this effort with my colleagues and ensure these bipartisan provisions receive consideration and approval by the full Senate."

This bill would:

·      Transfer 5,100 acres of land from the BLM to the Army in order to provide a critical safety and security buffer to NASA's White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) and the Department of Defense's Aerospace Data Facility-Southwest, which are both key tenants of White Sands Missile Range;

·      Transfer 2,050 acres of land in Fillmore Canyon from the Army to the BLM to create a boundary that is more clearly identifiable to the public to prevent accidental trespass onto Fort Bliss; and

·      Prohibit the BLM from selling, exchanging, or developing 35,550 acres of land in order to prevent incompatible development near the Fort Bliss Dona Ana Range Complex and Training Areas which include some of the Army's premier large weapons system firing ranges and artillery firing boxes. This land will still be accessible to the public for recreation, grazing, transportation, and other existing uses.

The text of the bill can be viewed here.