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Save Our Monuments before July 10

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The THREAT

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.

The role that Holloman Air Force base plays in our national security cannot be understated. The men and women stationed at Holloman are some of the nation's most courageous, and they are deserving of our respect. However, Holloman's proposed airspace expansion would unneccessarily threaten some of New Mexico's most cherished public lands and wild places.

WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT
We immediately drafted a letter to Holloman AFB, asking that the scoping period be reopened and extended and that they hold a public meeting in Silver City to explain to concerned citizens what exactly they are proposing, why it is necessary, and why they think Wilderness is an appropriate place for supersonic jets and incendiary devices. We got the word out to partner organizations and businesses affected and within 48 hours secured endorsements from dozens of groups. We also reached out to other groups that are typically hostile to our efforts. We think there is common cause on this issue. We immediately contacted our congressional delegation to bring this to their attention and to request their assistance scheduling a meeting with Holloman officials.
 
After Holloman released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in late 2019, New Mexico Wild joined forces with local partners to mobilize Wilderness supporters to comment on Holloman's planned airspace expansion. Through these efforts, New Mexico Wild was able to generate over 1,600 public comments calling on Holloman to choose the Alternative that had the least adverse impact on southern New Mexico's public lands and wild places.
 
We are now monitoring the situation to determine what additional steps need to be taken.
 
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