Holloman Air Force Base is considering expansion of its Special Use Airspace for training of F-16 fighter pilots over Silver City, the Gila National Forest and Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas.
Encompassing the nation’s first wilderness area and New Mexico’s last wild river, the Gila Region attracts retirees, outdoor recreation and tourism from throughout the U.S. and internationally. Holloman’s proposed action will impact the environment and wildlife and significantly degrade the rural character and quiet solitude of this unique area, impacting real estate values, outdoor recreation, tourism, and the local economy. The Gila Region, Alternative #2, should not be considered a viable option for Special Use Airspace.
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Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo is considering expanding its Special Use Airspace to train F-16 fighter pilots. One of the alternatives being considered, Alternative #2, is to create a new Military Operations Area outside of Silver City, including over the Gila National Forest and Gila Wilderness. The Air Force is proposing to fly 10,000 training sorties annually, including low-level flights at 500 ft above ground surface, as well as 1000 supersonic sorties. The F-16’s will also train with air defense systems that employ chaff and flares – as many as 30,000 annually.
The Air Force did not hold a public meeting in Silver City or notify local elected officials about its proposal. Thanks to the public outcry and the efforts of local elected officials and conservation groups, the Air Force has agreed to attend a public meeting hosted by the Grant County Commission on Tuesday, Nov. 14th at 6pm at the Grant Co. Commission chambers. They will brief commissioners about the Holloman proposal and accept written public comment.
The human, wildlife and environmental impacts of this proposal could be severe. The extreme noise from low elevation overflights can be frightening and disruptive to humans and wildlife. Additionally, Holloman’s proposal requests use of chaff and flares (15,000 of each annually) for aircraft defense. These radar-disrupting systems introduce aluminum, plastic fibers and magnesium into the environment, with potential impacts to water quality and wildlife and increased risk of wild fire.
Find out more
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