Belle Fourche Tactics and Training Range Site
ACC converted the Belle Fourche Tactics and Training Range Site in South Dakota to a contractor operation. This cost-saving measure resulted in a decrease of 76 full-time military and two civilian manpower authorizations. The exact number of contractor personnel had not been determined at the time of the announcement.
The Nellis Range Complex is located between Las Vegas and Tonopah in Southwestern Nevada and consists of five adjacent geographical areas. The 99th Range Squadron, which controls the range, is located on Nellis Air Force Base, approximately eight miles northeast of Las Vegas. The five geographical areas of the Nellis Range Complex consist of: Restricted Areas R-4806, primarily used for testing and munitions training; R-4807, used for electronic combat and munitions training; R-4808, used by the Nevada Test Site; R-4809, used primarily as an electronic combat range; and the Desert Military Operating Area, used for air-to-air training. The 99th Range Squadron commands two detachments: Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, which manages Nellis' Southern Ranges, and Tonopah Test Range Airfield, which manages Nellis' Northern Ranges. The 99th Range Support Squadron (ACC) operates, maintains, and develops four geographically separated electronic scoring sites at Belle Fourche, SD; La Junta, CO; Dugway, UT; and Harrison, AR, as well as an instrumentation support facility located at Ellsworth AFB, SD.
Belle Fourche has become known as the "Center of the Nation" due to its proximity to the actual geographic center of the nation. Belle Fourche is the county seat of Butte County. The name is French for "beautiful fork" because of its site on the "forks" of Redwater River, Hay Creek, and the Belle Fourche River. One of the reasons folks settled in the Belle Fourche area was due to its rich diversity of natural resources. Primary among these was gold, discovered near Deadwood in 1876. This resource is still being actively mined in the Lead - Deadwood area. South Dakota is first among the states in gold production, accounting for approximately 40% of the nation's annual delivery. Homestake Mining is the largest and oldest of several mining companies producing gold and silver in the Black Hills. Bentonite, often referred to as the "Mud of Minor Miracles," is a volcanic ash product. The world's largest known reserves of bentonite lie within 50 miles of Belle Fourche. Harding and northern Butte Counties produce the majority of South Dakota's oil and natural gas production.
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