Congressman Vargas Strategically Preserves Environmental Resources and Strengthens National Security

Washington, DC - Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51) applauded Senate passage of H.R. 3304, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included a key provision he authored. The NDAA is now heading to the President’s desk for signature.

Vargas’ provision is based on H.R. 1691, “Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range Transfer Act of 2013,’’ that he introduced in April. By strategically attaching his bill’s provisions to the NDAA, Rep. Vargas was able to effectively preserve crucial environmental resources in his district and strengthen national security.

“I am extremely proud that my legislation was included in the NDAA, which passed the Senate and is now making its way to the President’s desk,” stated Rep. Vargas. “The Chocolate Mountain provision not only provides a much-needed management arrangement between the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Navy, but also preserves the environmental integrity of the land and supports our national security.”

Vargas’ provision transfers the administrative jurisdiction of the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range (CMAGR) from the Bureau of Land Management to the Secretary of the Navy. CMAGR, located within desert mountain terrain in Imperial and Riverside counties, supports numerous types of military training.

“The Department of the Navy appreciates that Congress is taking action to retain the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range (CMAGR),” said a spokesperson from the Department of the Navy. “This range is essential to the Marine Corps' current aviation training and readiness requirements and is used extensively by Naval Special Warfare units. It is the Marine Corps' premier Aerial Gunnery Range on the West Coast and retention will greatly enhance the ability of naval aviators in maintaining their combat superiority.”

“Consolidating the land management under a sole federal agency will provide regulatory relief and certainty to the Department of the Navy, and allow the range to operate more efficiently while maintaining the spirit of the land withdrawal program,” said Rep. Vargas.

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