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McGregor Renewal and the Current Air Defense Mission

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The U.S. Department of Defense manages 25 million acres of federal land. Most of it was assigned when there were few competing uses and few questions about DoDs need for land. But population growth, suburban sprawl, environmental concerns, and new categories of recreational use have changed the situation. The DoD is increasingly being asked to justify its land holdings and determine what can be returned to the public domain. The issue has immediate policy implications because 16 million DoD acres are classified as withdrawn public land. This is typical for military land in the West, and the term implies a congressional promise to return the land to the public domain when it is no longer needed for military purposes. The urgency of the promise depends on the specific legislation that has withdrawn the land. Some has been withdrawn in perpetuity, while six major ranges, comprising nearly 30 percent of DoDs land, were withdrawn in 1986 for only 15 years under the Military Lands Withdrawal Act. Unless Congress passes new legislation, the lands will revert to the public domain in 2001. The purpose of this report is to evaluate the military need for one of the six ranges the Armys McGregor Range in southern New Mexico. McGregors 700,000 acres comprises more than half of Fort Blisss 1.12 million acres. Sections of McGregor are also used for cattle grazing and other nonmilitary purposes along with the military uses. The Bureau of Land Management manages the cattle-grazing program subject to Army access rules. This report considers four policy questions 1 is the McGregor Range a critical Army-wide priority 2 how intensely does the military use the McGregor Range 3 are military and nonmilitary uses balanced effectively, and what could change that balance and 4 is it possible to transfer McGregor activities to the adjacent White Sands Missile Range which has more land and declining activity

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  • Geography
  • Civil Engineering

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