WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is encouraged by a U.S. Air Force Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that identifies the expansion of the Talon Military Operations Area (MOA) and the overlying Air Traffic Control Assigned Airspace as the preferred alternative to enlarge Holloman Air Force Base’s F-16 fighter pilot training area.
Through his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Heinrich has fought to ensure that New Mexico remains home to the best military training airspace in the country. Senator Heinrich is also acutely aware that advancements in aviation have required larger training areas to accommodate planes that can fly faster, farther and recognize threats from greater distances, but has been vocal about protecting the sanctity of public lands like the Gila National Forest and listening to local community members.
“I am encouraged to see that the Air Force will expand the boundaries of an existing Military Operations Area and will not increase training activity over some of our nation’s most treasured public spaces like the Gila National Forest. Hollman is a leader in training fighter pilots and its military mission in New Mexico is essential to our nation’s overall security strategy, and the unique conditions and capabilities in our state continue to offer best value and exceptional opportunities for those missions,” said Heinrich.
Senator Heinrich is also expecting the Air Force to be transparent with New Mexicans who will be impacted by expanded training areas. Heinrich added, “It will be important that the Air Force communicate this decision and the impact it will have on affected communities in the weeks and months ahead. I will work closely with the Air Force and other federal agencies to ensure that transparency remains a key priority and that the voices of New Mexicans are heard.”
Senator Heinrich previously led the New Mexico delegation in a successful effort to extend the public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the airpsace in response to a large number of Grant County citizens that shared similar concerns about training over the Gila National Forest.