Bondsteel, Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise Range
Donnelly Training Area West contains a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise Range where teams can practice coordinated combat exercises including weapons firing, ground maneuvers, and air-supported tactical operations. (Ellen Clark, U.S. Army Alaska, Integrated Training Area Management, 2010)
(Click to enlarge)

Background Information

In 1999, through the Military Lands Withdrawal Act (Public Law 106-65), Congress withdrew 869,862 acres of public land comprising Yukon Training Area, Donnelly Training Area East, and Donnelly Training Area West from all forms of appropriation under public land laws and reserved them for use by the Army until November 2026.The withdrawn lands were formerly under the stewardship of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which managed the lands for multiple uses including recreation, extractive uses, subsistence uses, and open space. The lands are now managed by both the Army and BLM and comprise three military training areas in interior Alaska.

Withdrawn Lands
(Click to enlarge)

Project Area Location and Description

Yukon Training Area is a rectangular, 390 square-mile parcel located approximately 16 miles east-southeast of Fairbanks adjacent to Eielson Air Force Base. Donnelly Training Area East is an 81 square-mile parcel stretching east from the Richardson Highway to Granite Creek, while Donnelly Training Area West is an 894 square-mile parcel bounded by the Little Delta River to the west and the Richardson Highway to the east. The two areas are separated by the Richardson Highway and the Fort Greely Main Post.

Millitary Training Area
The Army requires lands and facilities that allow for training in challenging environments, including arctic and subarctic conditions. Winter trails in the Donnelly Training Area provide unique training opportunities for cold-weather preparedness. (Ellen Clark, U.S. Army Alaska, Integrated Training Area Management, 2018)
(Click to enlarge)

Proposed Action

The Army proposes to extend the land withdrawal from public use for 25 years or more or assign control of the lands to the Secretary of the Army until such time as the Army determines it no longer needs them for military purposes.

During the withdrawal period, the Army and BLM would continue to manage the lands subject to conditions and restrictions necessary to permit the military use of these lands. Management of these lands would follow the Army’s Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan, which was initially developed by the Army with concurrence from the BLM. Hunting, fishing, and trapping on these lands would be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Military Reservations and Facilities: Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping (Section 2671 of Title 10, USC).

CRTC Mobility Test Complex
Military personnel conduct training and testing in all seasons at the Yukon, Donnelly East and Donnelly West Training Areas but the unique winter conditions of these withdrawn lands cannot be matched by any other facilities in the U.S.(Ellen Clark, U.S. Army Alaska, Integrated Training Area Management, 2015)
(Click to enlarge)

Why Is This Action Needed?

The Army has determined that there is a continuing military need for these lands to ensure that it can successfully execute and fulfill its mission in Alaska, which includes cold-weather training in arctic and subarctic conditions. These lands would be reserved for use by the Army for military maneuvering, training, equipment development and testing, and other defense-related purposes. Military activities conducted on the withdrawn lands would be consistent with those conducted since the previous withdrawal extension in 1999. The Army is proposing only to extend the period of use of the existing withdrawn areas, not to expand or add impact areas on the withdrawn lands.