Audubon Southwest and New Mexico Audubon Conservation Issues
2019: Holloman Air Force Base F-16 Flight Training
In Fall of 2019 Holloman Air Force Base invited public input to address their plan to expand training flights for new F-16 pilots. Using their Environmental Impact Statement, they described options they would like to consider for their expanded activities. The options include two that would expand the flights westward from the base, with overflights into Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas and over Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument. They presented their proposals at several public meetings throughout the state. Several members of the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society went to the one in Las Cruces.
The idea of responding to the invitation for public comment was taken to the MVAS Board, with the decision to solicit help from the NM Audubon Council. Our consensus was that the proposals for increasing westerly directed training flights had potential for significant environmental damage. The NM Council took our concerns seriously and developed a letter that was sent to the authorities at Holloman AFB. Their letter, representing the entire state of New Mexico Audubon membership, will carry much more weight than MVAS acting alone. It is an example of the benefit of being part of a state and national organization.
Attached are some of the communications related to this issue: (note: not all web references are still valid as this note is posted)
Happy ending. On February 2, 2021 the Las Cruces Sun News had a follow-up report from Holloman Air Force Base. They announced that the final decision for future training flights would be to continue in the same mode currently practiced. Their leaders listened to the public's concerns and heeded their advice. This is a story of how a local Audubon Chapter, working with a state level Audubon Council, can advocate for environmental issues and make a difference!