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Protect Wilderness From Fighter Jet Trainings

U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder/3rd Combat Camera Squadron CC BY 2.0

The U.S. Air Force wants to modify 10 Military Operations Areas that stretch across southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico. We can’t let this military expansion despoil some of America’s wildest country.

The proposal would authorize low-level fighter jet maneuvers and supersonic flights that cause sonic booms above rural and Tribal communities, some of the Southwest’s most fragile sky-island ecosystems, and beloved wilderness areas and national monuments.

The Air Force also wants to permit dropping of flares at lower altitudes, increasing the risk of human-caused wildfires across landscapes already experiencing severe drought. Additionally, the proposal would allow release of aluminum-coated silica “chaff” over public lands, polluting the environment.

WildEarth Guardians needs your help to stop these proposed actions before fighter jet condensation trails hit the skies. Public comments are being accepted through Thursday, March 4. You can submit your comments here.

Use these talking points below as a guide for writing your comments. But to make the biggest impact, please use your own voice to convey that the current project website lacks detailed information, making it difficult for the public to provide substantive comments, and the Air Force needs to do the following:

* Evaluate the impacts of extreme noise from low-level and supersonic training on communities (including potential for damage to structures), outdoor recreation economies, livestock, and wildlife (including threatened and endangered species).

* Assess the wildfire risk from the use of flares at lower elevations and potential military aircraft crashes, develop mitigation measures to reduce the risks, develop realistic plans for fighting a flare-induced or crash-induced fire, and express how public safety will be ensured.

* Fully assess contamination of air, land, and water from aircraft emissions and release of chaff and flares.

* Evaluate the environmental justice impacts of this proposal on communities of color and low-income communities, including the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache Tribes, Tohono O’odham Nation, and Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Furthermore, consultation with these Tribes must occur.

* Provide an analysis of the cumulative impacts of these airspace modifications to communities and wildlife and a plan for how impacts will be mitigated.

This proposal would impact dozens of rural communities, four Tribes, and millions of acres of public lands that sustain ecosystems, water quality, wildlife, and public recreation. So please click here to submit your comments and oppose the Air Force’s plans to despoil the quiet and wildness of the Desert Southwest.