While people generally were agreeable during recent public meetings to a high-tech electronic test range in west Millard County, the county's commissioners feel the project should produce some local benefits.
In a recent letter to U.S. Air Force officials, commissioners suggested some facilities be located in or near Delta. They said the test range would result in some impacts to Millard County.The Air Force is considering three sites in west Millard County. The range will be operated electronically to test combat capability, so no firing of aircraft-to-ground live ammunition or bombing would be carried out.
Commissioners feel roads will be affected, however. "The impact on roads in the area and to and from the area needs to be discussed. We feel that the Air Force should ensure that roads are left in as good or better condition than originally found. Also, some improvement would be required if all-weather/all-season use is anticipated.
The letter continues, "We are interested in economic development and tax base for our county. When use of some of these areas impacts our attempts to accomplish this, then we need some financial gain . . . to offset the impacts."
Commissioners extended an invitation to meet with Air Force officials "at any time to further discuss these issues."
Air Force officials assured ranchers and hunters at the public meetings that the government will continue to allow grazing and hunting on the land.
Three sites are being considered, in Tule Valley, Snake Valley or Whirlwind Valley. Tule Valley is the preferred site because of small towns and a bird refuge in the other areas. But land won't be withdrawn from public use.
The number of airplanes flying over the area will be increased, probably by as much as 30 percent. Officials said Hill Air Force Base can't handle all of the air traffic, so building up the Michael Army Airfield by Dugway, or facilities at Wendover or near Delta are being considered.
Public meetings were held in connection with an environmental study. A decision will not be announced until next September, so no development will take place at the test range until after that date. Then only a few buildings will be visible.
Some $76 million has been budgeted over a five-year period by the Department of Defense for the electronic battlefield.