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Low Altitude Training Area (LATA) Environmental Assessment (EA) Update

Environmental and LATA Information

Air Force Special Operations Command leadership concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) could not be reached through the current Environmental Assessment (EA) of the 27th Special Operations Wing's Low Altitude Training Area proposal currently under review.

Leadership anticipated that the No Action Alternative presented in the LATA proposal would not meet the wing's training requirements. Subsequently, the current EA action will be terminated and the Air Force will conduct a deeper analysis on a broader scope of wing training requirements.

"After careful evaluation, it became clear that a Finding of No Significant Impact could not be reached for this EA and still accomplish all of the training critical for our special operations forces," said Brig. Gen. Michael Kingsley, AFSOC vice commander.

The decision to terminate the current EA was influenced by the limited scope of the proposal; the valuable comments received from the public, agencies and other interested parties; and the existing need to supplement portions of the Beddown Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) at Cannon AFB, said Kingsley.

The wing, however, continues to have a requirement to train aircrews in low altitude flying. Currently this is being accomplished through the use of established Military Training Routes, Special Use Airspace, Visual Flight Rules, and excess capacity from other bases. All of these methods adhere to FAA regulations and Air Force Instructions. However, they provide less than optimal training and will not be sufficient as Cannon continues to receive its full complement of aircraft, expected to be complete in 2017.

"We still need to conduct flying training missions." said Col. Buck Elton, 27 SOW commander. "The wing operates nine different types of aircraft, each with unique training requirements. We are now conducting a complete review of all of our training needs, including, but not limited to, low altitude flying."

The requirement to assess the impact of low-altitude training, which drove the LATA EA, now overlaps with the Air Force's responsibility to assess additional training needs that were not fully known or entirely addressed during the initial Cannon Beddown EIS and Record of Decision in 2007, including requirements learned from recent operations. Fiscal realities and Air Force guidance indicate a transition to a more comprehensive analysis of the alternatives available to meet Cannon's training requirements would be wise.

When these requirements are fully defined, the Air Force will follow the implementing regulations prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to determine the appropriate action.

"The NEPA process helps us make well-informed environmental decisions. We intend to fully define our training requirements, and then take the most appropriate action to meet those requirements," said Elton.

These fully defined training requirements may require more detailed environmental impact analysis and may lead to preparation of an EIS.

We are approaching the final approval in the assessment phase. The Air Force should have a decision of the next steps within a few months.

"We will find the best way to achieve our critical training objectives while remaining good neighbors to the people of Colorado and New Mexico and good stewards of our environment," said Kingsley.

Please visit http://www.cannon.af.mil/library/environment.asp for the most up-to-date information regarding environmental actions at Cannon.


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tabLatest LATA Information
tabFinal Environmental Documents
tabDraft Environmental Documents
2011-09-08 Cannon Low Altitude Training Area (6 MB PDF) Due to a large file size, this document may have to be saved to your computer to view. The document that currently appears on the website has been updated with minor administrative corrections to Figures 2-1, 2-2, 2-4 and 3-7 and Appendix C to include letters referenced already in Section 3.6.2.3.
tabHow to Submit Comments
Electronic copies of these documents may be requested from Cannon AFB Public Affairs at 575-784-4131 or by downloading via the links on this page.

Comments must be submitted via mail or fax:

27 SOW Public Affairs
Attn: LATA Comments
110 E. Sextant Avenue, Suite 1150
Cannon AFB, NM 88103
Fax: 575-784-7412

Comments may also be emailed to 27SOW.PA.NEPA@cannon.af.mil. Please provide full contact information, to include name and address, so you can be added to the list of interested or affected persons who will receive updates.
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