News From Your Friends

FBI Shooting Range at Camp Bonneville – Position Statement

April 4, 2024 in Accountability, Parks, Trails, & Open Spaces, Position Statements & Policy Recommendations

We urge that Council and staff take the necessary steps to address the lack of transparency and record keeping with county contracts, specifically regarding the Camp Bonneville FBI shooting range, as well as multiple instances in which false information has been presented to Council and the public. The following provides a thorough explanation of the issue, as well as steps that can be taken by the county below:

At the last county discussion on Camp Bonneville, staff made the statement that the FBI had been paying the people of Clark County $150,000 a year in rent to use the shooting range at Camp Bonneville, which we now know is completely false based on an internal memo that reads as follows:

“At the March 6, 2024 Council Time presentation on the FBI Shooting Range, Erik Harrison and I communicated some information from memory from the history of the prior agreements with the FBI range at Camp Bonneville. In an effort to ensure we provide the most accurate information to Council, I have prepared this memo. 

In April 2012, the County entered into a 5-year agreement with the FBI and Clark County Sheriff’s Office. That agreement identified that the FBI would be responsible for maintenance and improvements at the range during the duration of the agreement. It identified that this was at the discretion of the FBI and subject to financial resources being available. In addition, the agreement covers remediation of the range if it is closed. The cap for FBI’s financial responsibility is set at $400,000.

In September 2012, the first amendment [to the FBI contract] was signed. This amendment identified an amount of $150,000 would be paid by the FBI for range improvements during the period of the agreement in lieu of a daily use fee. In addition, the lease was extended to 10 years.

In reviewing our files, we have not identified any records we have that we verified the expenditure of funds. Staff is working now to get this documentation from the FBI to ensure the terms of the prior lease were met. Current staff is aware of improvements at the range, but we do not know the date of these improvements.

Public Works staff has developed a 2nd amendment in 2019, a new agreement in 2021 and a revision to that in agreement in 2022 that did not get signed by the parties.”

Based on this false information ($150k a year versus $150k total for an improvement fund that there is no record of having been paid, with a contract that stipulates the FBI can pay at their discretion), Council directed staff to begin negotiating another contract with the FBI. 

We have now identified a recurring pattern of false information being presented to Council that Council then bases their votes or direction to staff upon, such as in the case of incorrect statements made by staff of the cleanup of Camp Bonneville’s Central Impact Target Area (CITA). In this example, the CITA, which contains 572 acres and is the most dangerous 15% of Camp Bonneville, had been presented as having been cleaned, including both surface and subsurface. However, the “Site Specific Final Report-Central Impact Target Area and Northern CITA Expansion,” dated January 2021, shows that 455 acres of the CITA were not cleared in any way.

To put this discrepancy in perspective, the truth is that only 20% of the CITA had been cleaned, yet it was presented that 100% of it had been cleaned. Based on this, it is fair to say that the statement that was made was false. Other issues have been raised about the accuracy of staff’s January 10th briefing to the council this year that are of serious concern when it comes to knowing the true extent of the environmental cleanup performed and the state of Camp Bonneville today. This includes outright omissions about the sitewide groundwater issue, the deteriorated roads and trails, any mention of the 2,000 acres that have not been surveyed, and more. Additionally, Friends of Clark County did not find direction from the council to be decipherable when viewing this meeting, which raises even more concerns about transparency with the public.

We have also been made aware that after a citizen raised this issue about the FBI shooting range contract with the county manager asking for records of the FBI having ever paid Clark County for use of Camp Bonneville, and inquiring about the nature of the previous contract, an internal memo was written shortly thereafter with corrections to staff’s public statements. However, this memo was not shared until after much pressing, and after the citizen suggested doing a public records request instead because they were not receiving answers. Why was there such a delay (10 days) between when the memo was written and when it was shared with a member of the public? Was this memo shared with Council?

If Council made a decision based on false information at a public meeting, then this correction should have been shared publicly and another opportunity should exist for the public to weigh in on this incredibly one-sided contract with an entity of which Clark County has zero records of having fulfilled the terms of. Moreover, if citizens knew about the nature of this contract, we believe there would have been more public opposition to it, even if the FBI had fulfilled the terms.

Given this situation, as well as problems identified with the rail operator’s lease which have resulted in huge consequences for the taxpaying citizens of this county (such as the cost of litigation), we believe all county contracts should be made available publicly on the Clark County website going forward, and that the nature of the contracts being drafted should be disclosed prior to and during public meetings in which staff is seeking to move forward with a contract.

We emphasize that these issues are being raised in the interest of transparency. The adequacy of cleanup at Camp Bonneville has been very much in dispute for years. There is much documentation of data to demonstrate this. The stakes for public safety, liability, and costs to the county and its taxpayers are extremely high, and this CAG review process is the last chance to establish clear facts about the cleanup so that the county can know how to proceed responsibly in the interest of its citizens.

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