Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Modoc Aerial Gunnery and Bombing Range
 

The 291,165-acre site is located approximately 20 miles north of Alturas in Modoc County, California. The site consists of three areas, the Modoc Aerial Gunnery Range, strafing and bombing areas known as Goose Lake-Northern and Goose Lake-Southern, and Clear Lake Reservoir. The Goose Lake-Northern site is located in Oregon and is not associated with this project number. The majority of the Modoc Aerial Gunnery Range property is currently part of the Modoc National Forest and is used by ranchers for grazing cattle. Clear Lake is now a National Wildlife Refuge.

Condemnation proceedings for the Modoc Aerial Gunnery Range were initiated on 17 November 1943. Through a Complaint in Condemnation, the Department of Navy requested exclusive use and occupancy of the Modoc County lands for a term beginning 1 November 1943 and terminating 31 March 1945. Pursuant to the second War Powers Act, possession of the lands was taken upon filing of the petition in condemnation. The area was used as an aerial gunnery range. In May of 1945 the Navy requested authority to renegotiate all leases that did not contain clauses for renewal for the period from 1 November 1945 to 31 March 1946. On 11 January 1946, the Navy notified the Secretary of the Interior that the property for Aerial Gunnery Range No. 1 was no longer required for the purposes requested and the Navy wished to withdraw the request for a permit. In April 1946, the Navy returned the Clear Lake land to the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation and released and abandoned all rights granted to it under the Agreement. The deactivation date for the Goose Lake Bombing Range is unknown. This property is known or suspected to contain military munitions and explosives of concern (e.g., unexploded ordnance) and therefore may present an explosive hazard.

Source: US Army Corps of Engineers Public FUDS GIS System

 

US Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District History (1999)

Site Name: The site consisted of three areas, a) Modoc Aerial Gunnery Range also known as Modoc County Gunnery Range, and Aerial Gunnery Range Area No. 1. While the Modoc Aerial Gunnery Range was located in both California and Oregon, only the California portion is discussed in this report; b) strafing and bombing areas known as Goose Lake-Northern and Goose Lake-Southern; and c) Clear Lake Reservoir. The Goose Lake-Northern site is located in Oregon and is not fully discussed in this report.

Location: The sites are all located in Modoc County, California beginning approximately 20 miles north of Alturas, California and 170 miles northeast of Redding, California.

The portion of the former Modoc Aerial Gunnery Range located in California consists of 291,165 acres and comprises all or portions of Townships 45 through 48 North, Ranges 8 through 13 East, and is situated at latitude 120 52' north and longitude 41 52' west. The majority of the property is part of the Modoc National Forest and is used by ranchers for grazing cattle.

Goose Lake-Southern was a circular area having a three mile radius centered at Latitude 41 52' north, 120 25' west, and located in Townships 46 and 47 North, Ranges 19 and 20 East. The lake is bordered by ranches and the Modoc National Forest.

The Clear Lake Reservoir site consisted of all that portion of Clear Lake Reservoir within a one and one-half mile radius of the two bombing targets located at latitude 41 49' 30" North, longitude 121 07' West (further described as the NE¼, Section 8, Township 46 North, Range 7 East, Mt.D.M.) and latitude 41 53' north, longitude 121 12' west (further described as NW¼, Section 29, Township 47 North, Range 7 East, Mt.D.M.). Clear Lake is now a National Wildlife Refuge.

Site History: Condemnation proceedings, Civil No. 4805 for 291,165 acres in the County of Modoc, for the Modoc Aerial Gunnery Range were initiated on November 17, 1943. The Complaint in Condemnation requested exclusive use and occupancy by the Navy, of the lands for a term beginning November 1, 1943 and terminating March 31, 1944. The area was to be used as a site for an aerial gunnery range. Pursuant to the Second War Powers Act, possession of the lands was taken upon the filing of the petition in condemnation. The area was owned by the Forest Service and Grazing Service and a large number of individuals. Lease NOy(R)-36536, negotiated in settlement of condemnation proceedings, was signed in September 1944 and covered the period beginning November 1, 1943 and terminating March 31, 1945. Because an agreement for the property was reached and a lease instituted, Civil No. 4805 was dismissed on January 5, 1945. Notices of commencement of firing were to be put in all of the local papers at Klamath Falls, Lakeview, and Alturas.

An additional condemnation proceeding titled the United States v. 960 acres of land in the County of Modoc, William Perry, et al., Civil No. 5026 was instituted on November 2, 1944. The complaint requested use of the land for a period beginning November 1, 1944, and ending November 1, 1945, for an aerial gunnery range in connection with the Naval Air Station at Klamath Falls, Oregon. Lease NOy(R)-36974 was executed and the proceedings were dismissed in November 1944.

An April 10, 1945 memorandum from the Bureau of Yards and Docks states that the Interior Department had never been requested to grant permission to use the public domain lands within Area No. 1. It requested that maps and descriptions of the area finally approved for acquisition in Area No. 1 be furnished in order that the Interior Department might be requested to grant permission for the use of these lands.

In May of 1945 the Navy requested authority to renegotiate all leases that did not contain clauses for renewal for the period from November 1, 1945 to March 31, 1946. On January 11, 1946, the Navy notified the Secretary of the Interior that the property for Aerial Gunnery Range No. 1 was no longer required for the purposes requested and the Navy wished to withdraw the request for a permit.

Goose Lake and Clear Lake

On April 1944, the Navy stated that targets were urgently needed for Fleet Air Squadrons based at NAS Klamath Falls and NAAF Lakeview, and requested that necessary action be taken to obtain by lease or transfer two areas on Goose Lake in Southern Oregon and Northern California. The target locations were selected upon the suggestion of the Fish and Wildlife Service. The areas were approved for strafing and low level bombing by the "IATCA" Seattle Sub-Committee on April 3, 1944.

The request for the acquisition by leasehold of private and State interests and a permit from the "Government Department" having jurisdiction over both Goose Lake sites and the Clear Lake Reservoir, for strafing and low level bombing targets was approved by the House and Senate on June 16, 1944. The approval of the Clear Lake site was based on the condition that the Fish and Wildlife Service withdraw objections.

On April 24, 1945, the Navy signed an Operational Agreement for the Use of Clear Lake Reservoir as a Bombing and Strafing Target Area (Agreement) with Department of the Interior's agencies the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. The Agreement stated that the term "Bombing an Strafing Area" would be interpreted to mean all that portion of Clear Lake Reservoir within a one and one-half mile radius of the two bombing targets. The Agreement also stated that no explosive charges would be used at any time and no bombing or strafing runs would be made over the spit and low lands on the northeasterly portion of Clear Lake. In April 1946, the Navy returned the land to the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation and released and abandoned all rights granted to it under the Agreement. The deactivation date for the Goose Lake Bombing Range is unknown.

 

Site Map. Map is erroneously identified as Siskiyou Bombing Range

 

Updated 8 April 2015