RENO, Nev. — Conservationists are leading opposition to a proposal to triple the size of a U.S. military bombing range and training grounds in northern Nevada in a move that could gobble up more than 900 square miles (2,330 square kilometers) of public land across five counties.

The Navy wants to add more than 100 square miles (260 square kilometers) of private land to the Fallon Range Training Complex 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of Reno. Navy officials say the additional space is needed to safely provide more realistic training using today’s faster, more advanced aircraft and weaponry.

But critics say it could have ramifications for hunters, ATV riders, backcountry explorers and wildlife, all of which could face access restrictions on public land the Navy would use for newly expanded bombing and training ranges.

“This would blow a hole through the middle of the Great Basin desert, literally,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

The proposed expansion includes parts of Churchill, Lyon, Mineral, Nye and Pershing counties. The public has until Jan. 15 to comment. Seven public meetings are scheduled this month in northern and central Nevada.

The proposal, which has been in planning stages for about two years, passed a milestone earlier this month when the Navy released a draft environmental impact statement outlining alternative configurations for the expansion, the Reno Gazette Journal reports.

Find out more in the original article published by here