The Bureau of Land Management, the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, and Hill Air Force Base are in the early stages of an unexploded ordnance removal project in areas near the Utah Test and Training Range.
All partners met last week to discuss the cleanup actions that are currently being conducted on BLM property adjacent to the UTTR in the west desert of Utah. Cleanup will include location and removal of unexploded ordnance and explosive residue that was left from open detonation disposal operations of surplus or aged munitions post World War II era.
BLM is currently reviewing different management alternatives to protect the public during this extended UXO removal project. "Public safety is our priority," said Kevin Oliver, BLM West Desert District Manager. "We know for certain that signs will be placed in areas of concern for public information as a first step to addressing the issue." The project will cover thousands of acres and is projected to take place over a 10 year period.
Because UXO, whether whole or fragmented, can present a hazard, the public should be alert to anything unnatural or manmade in areas near UTTR, move away and not touch the items and call 911 to report the location, route, landmarks or any other features that would aid authorities in locating the UXO.
The BLM manages a significant portion of the land located adjacent to the UTTR and is responsible for carrying out programs that provide for management and conservation of cultural and natural resources. BLM lands are managed for recreational use, grazing, mineral leases, wildlife habitat, and various other uses. Most of the land owned by SITLA adjacent to UTTR is unused but some of the land is leased for grazing. Cleanup is being managed by Hill AFB.
The UTTR was activated in 1941 to provide World War II bombing and gunnery training. At that time, it was the largest bombing and gunner range in the world. Over time, use of the UTTR has changed and some of the land, for a variety of reasons relinquished back to the Department of the Interior. Since that time, the remainder of the range is used for various air-to-air and air-to-ground training, ground force exercises and large-footprint weapons testing.
In 2001, Congress created an addition to the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) by implementing the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP). This program was created to address UXO, discarded military munitions (DMM) and munitions constituents (MC) located on range lands that are no longer operational or as is the case with this property, areas that are impacted by military range activities that were never owned or leased by the Department of Defense.