Holloman Air Force Base is proposing a new Military Operations Area (MOA) for F-16 fighter pilot training over southwestern New Mexico. Potentially, 10,000 sorties a year — 30 a day —could fly over the Gila, with a thousand of those flights supersonic and a thousand at night. Many of the fighter jets could be flying very fast at low altitudes (down to 500 feet above ground level). Others will drop flares and a radar-deflecting glass/aluminum material called chaff from above 2,000 feet.
The proposed expansion in F-16 flight training in southwest New Mexico could put the health of the Gila National Forest, Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas, and of nearby communities like Silver City at risk from wildfire, extreme noise, and environmental contamination. Our rural economy, trying to wean itself off the boom and bust cycle of extractive industries, relies on our natural amenities to attract tourism, outdoor recreation, and retirees. This economic development strategy may be severely threatened by Holloman’s proposal.
The danger to our community and public lands is much more than a not-in-my-backyard issue. The Gila River, the Gila National Forest, and the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas are part of our national heritage that belongs to everyone.
GRIP has taken a leadership role in formation of the Peaceful Gila Skies campaign to oppose this threat to the Gila. Peaceful Gila Skies is a coalition of business owners, community leaders, sportsmen and concerned citizens, and conservation groups: Center for Biological Diversity, Gila Conservation Coalition, Gila Resources Information Project, Heart of the Gila, New Mexico Wild, and Upper Gila Watershed Alliance. We are united in our opposition to the expansion of Holloman Air Force Base’s military training over the Gila region in southwest New Mexico.
Twenty-six organizations and more than 12,000 individuals submitted hundreds of pages of comments and supporting documentation in opposition to the Air Force’s proposal to expand its Holloman Air Force Base (AFB) F-16 pilot training airspace over the Gila Wilderness. [Comments can be accessed here.] “Communities throughout southwest New Mexico strongly oppose F-16 training over the Gila. […]