From the Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 11, 1995
By Susan Greene
[CNI News thanks Glenda Stocks and Marie Jones for forwarding this story.]
The Air Force has closed off 4,000 acres of formerly public land in Lincoln County, including a remote hilltop used by aviation buffs and UFO aficionados to observe the classified Area 51 air base.
Over the weekend, unidentified work crews quietly posted signs warning hikers and motorists away from Freedom Ridge and nearby White Sides Mountain, both offering unobstructed views of the base.
The move followed a decision Friday by the Interior Department to transfer jurisdiction of the land from the Bureau of Land Management to the Air Force until November 2001.
Also known as "Dreamland," "The Pig Farm" and "The Box," the Groom Lake base is said to have been built in the early 1950s to test the Lockheed U-2 spy plane and other high-altitude, high-speed military aircraft, including the SR-71 Blackbird and F-117A stealth fighter.
In October 1993, the Air Force asked Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to withdraw Freedom Ridge and White Sides Mountain from public lands, citing a need to protect "the safe and secure operation" of the 3.5 million-acre Nellis Air Force range complex.
"We identified this additional land as being needed to ensure the safety and security of operations on the Nellis Range Complex," said Nellis spokeswoman Kim Ransford in a prepared statement repeated by other Air Force and Pentagon officials.
Military watchdogs believe the withdrawal is motivated by the Air Force's desire to prevent the public from stealing even distant glimpses of the base's hangars, barracks, antennae and runway.
The Air Force issued a statement last year acknowledging "an operating location near Groom dry lake" but would not comment further.
During the more than two years he has lived near and monitored the base, Rachel resident Glenn Campbell said he has "never seen anything from the (Freedom Ridge) view point, never any UFOs or secret aircraft."
"I'm outraged that the land has been taken, but their tactics have proven to do the opposite of what they intended. In taking Freedom Ridge, they've actually called more attention to the base," said Campbell.
Campbell and his supporters say closing Freedom Ridge won't hinder their push for greater government accountability at Groom Lake.
They also will now use Tikaboo Peak, 13 miles east of Freedom Ridge, which -- with a telescope -- offers a clear view of the base.
"They can't take it all," Campbell said with a chuckle. "They just can't take it all."
Original file name: CNI - Area 51 Off Limits
This file was converted with TextToHTML - (c) Logic n.v.