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NOTICE: The page below has been permenently FROZEN as of January 2000. Due to resource limitations, this section of our website is no longer maintained, so some links may not work and some information may be out of date. We have retained this page for archive reference only, and we cannot vouch for its accuracy. Broken links will not be repaired, and minor errors will not be corrected. You are responsible for independently verifying any information you may find here.

On this page: Who Controls Area 51? | Other Land Actions | U.S. Code | Other | External Resources

Area 51 Law

Laws and Land Orders related to Area 51.

Who Controls Area 51?

The 6 by 10 mile block of land that was known as Area 51 with withdrawn by the AEC in Public Land Order 1662 on June 28, 1958. The NTS Draft EIS (Jan. 1996, v.1, page 4-9) states: "Under Public Land Order 1662 (June 20, 1958), approximately 38,400 acres were reserved for the use of the Atomic Energy Commission in connection the the NTS. Management of this land has since been delegated to the U.S. Air Force." Inquiries to DOE yielded this 1996 statement, while FOIA requests to DOE have brought vague national security denials, implying (to us) that any agreement between DOE and the AF is secret. This means that Area 51 is indeed a no man's land -- neither controlled by DOE nor confirmable by the Air Force. (The AF only acknowledges that they do have "facilities at Groom Dry Lake," not that they control the land or the entire base.)

We still don't know...

One revealing tidbit: The Tonopah Test Range is referred to as Area 52 in the DOE/NV internal phone book (June 1990). If Areas 53-55 exist, we expect they are satellite sites. For example, if there was an area number for the Project Faultless site (about 100 miles north of the NTS), we would expect it to be numbered in the 50s. This orderly view of the universe is belied only by Area 13, which is a plutonium dispersal site on Air Force land north of Area 51. Perhaps 50s numbers refer to areas of joint AF/DOE control.

Other Land Actions

U.S. Code

  1. United States Code - Title 18, Chapter 37: Espionage And Censorship*

  2. United States Code - Title 42, Chapter 82*, Subchapter VI: Federal Responsibilities

  3. United States Code - Title 43: Public Lands*


  1. Presidential Determination No. 95-45: Determination Exempting USAF from Conservation Laws. 9/29/95

External Resources

  1. The Legal Information Institute: Cornell Law School
  2. The U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library

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Original Text Copyrighted © 1994-99 Glenn Campbell
PO Box 30303, Las Vegas, NV 89173

Note: The above page has been frozen as of Jan. 1, 2000. It is retained only for archive purposes. Broken links will not be repaired and some information may be out of date.

The former webmaster, Glenn Campbell, is still active at or @BadDalaiLama on Twitter


Created: 6/20/96