Military Looks To Extend Training On Public Lands

Nov 4, 2013

Credit US Air Force

Air Force and Marine units use mountain terrain regions in the Cibola National Forest for operations training.

Although these trainings have been taking place for the last 17 years, critics are opposing the renewal of the agreement to extend the activities for another two decades.

Kirtland Air Force Base has asked the U.S. Forest Service for an extension to continue training in the Magdalena Mountains, as well as three more landing sites for helicopters. There currently are two.

The Air Force argues there are unique training opportunities in there for high elevation operations.

But one environmental advocacy organization is suggesting there is nothing particularly unique about the terrain.

“We feel this type of terrain should be easily found elsewhere," said Michael Casaus, the New Mexico State Director for The Wilderness Society. He added that the Department of Defense hasn’t shown they don’t have similar types of terrain among their military installments.

The Wilderness Society is calling for additional analysis of the environmental impact and for the public comment period to reopen.

If the agreement is renewed, 4,378 flights and 26,230 maneuvers would continue annually.