Gila overflights threaten the serenity of the Gila Wilderness

Protection Campaign

Air Force plans low level test flights over Gila Region

Campaign Update

Headquarters, U.S. Air Force has prepared a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the potential environmental effects of optimizing the F-16 pilot training airspace for Holloman AFB (HAFB), New Mexico. The Final EIS addresses comments received during the Draft EIS comment period and identifies Alternative 1: the expansion of the Talon military operations area (MOA) near HAFB as the Preferred Alternative. Other than a “no change” alternative, this was the preferred alternative advocated for by New Mexico Wild and Gila-area conservation and business interests.

For several years, Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo has been eyeing plans to expanding airspace for F-16 pilot training over the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas, as well as portions of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The trainings could result in the discharge of 15,000 flares and 15,000 bundles of chaff annually above southern New Mexico's Wilderness Areas.
Two of the base's proposed plans would create up to a 7 million-acre Military Operations Area over the Gila Region and Rio Grande Valley from Socorro to Las Cruces for low-level (500 feet above ground level), high-level, supersonic and nighttime F-16 pilot training. These proposals threaten our quality of life, health and local economies by putting our communities, public lands, watersheds and wildlife at great risk from extreme noise, wildfire and environmental contamination.

The Air Force acknowledges that one of the draft plans, Alternative 1 -- expansion and reconfiguration of Talon MOA, east of Alamogordo -- meets its training needs with the fewest risks and impacts. We recognize the role of Holloman’s F-16 pilot training mission to national defense. Alternative 1 best meets those needs.

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