Grant and Catron Counties were unaware of the Air Force’s proposal to expand its airspace over the Gila. Because the Air Force did not hold a public meeting in Silver City, the local communities that would be impacted by this proposal were left out of the formal NEPA scoping process.
Once citizens found out about the proposal, the response was swift and loud in opposition to the Air Force’s plans for Holloman AFB. Thanks to the public outcry and the efforts of local elected officials and conservation groups, the Air Force agreed to attend a public meeting hosted by the Grant County Commission on November 14, 2017.
More than 2,300 petition signatures and public comments in opposition to the Air Force’s proposal were submitted to the Air Force after the public meeting. In addition, more than 150 Grant County business owners signed letters opposing the Air Force’s proposal.
More than 20 conservation groups signed on to scoping comments that identify the range of issues the Air Force should address in its draft Environmental Impact Statement.
The Grant County Commission unanimously passed a resolution requesting the Air Force consider several important points and opposing the Air Force proposal, and the Town of Silver City sent a letter to the Air Force in strong opposition to Holloman’s proposal.
State elected officials also voiced their opposition to the proposal. Howie Morales, then a State Senator, published an op-ed opposing the F-16 military training. In August 2019, Senator Martin Heinrich also wrote an op-ed stating that the Gila Wilderness is an inappropriate place for F-16s.
“Making Noise Over New F-16 Flights” Guest Column by Senator Howie Morales, Albuquerque Journal 11/8/17
“Crowd packs meeting on proposed increase in F-16 flights” Albuquerque Journal 11/14/17