The Army wants to expand operations into Otero County, again.
There are two expansion projects that the Army is pushing. Both involve low flight over private and public recreation land. This includes low flight over homes. Both expansions will require night, low altitude flights over homes.
The first expansion is called HAMETS (High Altitude Mountain Environmental Training Strategy). This Fort Bliss training has been completed in Colorado for years. Colorado has facilities and experience. Fort Bliss now wants to expand their empire and conduct HAMETS here inside the Lincoln National Forest. This Army expansion involves 18 landing zones below Cloudcroft, NM. These LZs would be scattered across LNF land and would be used for day and night heavy helicopter practice landings/hovering. The helicopters would fly over Otero County to use these landing zones, again both at day and night time. These would be relatively low altitude flights. These helicopters are big and noisy and will adversely impact rural residents. My NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Scoping comments (impacts to environment) on this Army airspace grab are HERE. My comments on the DoD (Department of Defense) deal with the USFS to allow HAMETS is HERE. My comments on the USFS “Forest Plan” vs DoD HAMETS is HERE. Note that my comments contain references and citations.
The second Army expansion is called “Local Flying Area” but it is an expansion of low altitude helicopter training over private land (and BLM land), plus lowing of flight levels all across Otero County. The lowest training is at 100’ above the ground and is in the Brokeoff Mountains Wilderness Study area. Conditions on the private land below this training include 80+ mph winds and 100+ dB of noise. Again this is for day and night large (noisy) helicopter operations. My comments to the Army are HERE and HERE. Note that my comments contain references and citations. The Army environmental information is HERE. With no public input the Army declared that their expansion had a “Finding No Significant Impact” on the private property and environment below the proposed low altitude training. The FONSI document is HERE. It is interesting that both the Army and Air Force want to use the same area (Brokeoff Mountains). One for 100’ above ground hovering and “pop-up” maneuvers and one for supersonic training and 200’ above the ground jet flight. Just imagine living below all this DoD activity. Hell on earth.
The Department of Defense already owns over twenty five million acres (25,000,000). The Fort Bliss / White Sands Missile Range complex already covers 3.14 million acres (3,140,000) just for use as the US Army wishes. Much of this land was taken, at gun point, from unwilling citizens. Now more is needed?