Base Property and Historical Use
The Salton Sea Test Base (SSTB) was originally established by the Department of the Navy as the Salton Sea Naval Air facility in 1942. The facility was used for seaplane and bombing range operations, rocket development work and testing of jet engine propellant mixtures. The SSTB was also used for tests of the Mercury space capsules parachute landing system and was used as a joint Parachute Test Facility by the Navy and the Air Force. Full-time occupation of the facility was terminated in September 1987 with the removal of Navy security forces. The facility was intermittently used in the early 1990s to support U.S. military training operations.
Closure Date, Planned Reuses, Parcels Transferred
The former SSTB is located in Imperial County, California approximately 6 miles south of Salton City. The former SSTB consists of approximately 20,000 acres of mostly undeveloped desert and water in the vicinity of the southwest shore of the Salton Sea. The Navy owned approximately 5,900 acres of the former SSTB.
The former SSTB included land that was leased to the Navy by the State of California and the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), land owned by the Navy, land withdrawn from the Public Domain for use by the Navy, and land held under a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of the Interior (DOI). The lease with the State of California expired in1983, and the lease with the IID expired in 1996. The three Navy-owned parcels that were located outside the main base boundary were sold in 1998. The remaining Navy-owned property was transferred to the DOI in September 2000 for use by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for protection of cultural and biological resources.
In September 2016, the BLM designated the former SSTB an area of critical environmental concern and the property is now closed to the public.
Remaining Disposal Work
All Navy-owned property at the former SSTB has been sold or transferred. Currently, the former SSTB property is owned and managed by the BLM for conservation of natural and cultural resources.