by Lisa Cyriacks

A number of Colorado’s federal representatives and senators are questioning the US Air Force about the planned low-altitude tactical navigation (LATN) area training flights over southeast Colorado and eastern New Mexico. As a result the public comment period has been extended through Nov. 15.  Comments to the US Air Force can be made by calling (575) 784-4131, by fax at (575) 784-7412 or by emailing: 27SOWpublicaffairs@cannon.af.mil.

The LATN area is currently proposed to consist of 36 Colorado counties and 19 counties in New Mexico—including the San Luis Valley in its entirety. The flights would be conducted in turboprop aircraft, the C-22 Osprey and C-130 Hercules, stationed at Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis, N.M.  The Air Force has announced the impending training period as consisting of a variable number of mission flights during a 24-hour period, the majority reportedly intended to occur Monday through Friday

around dusk. A total of about 700 flights are planned per year.

At a Sept. 25 meeting organized in Pueblo by State Reps. Sal Pace, Wes McKinley and Ed Vigil, emphasis was placed on the potential private and economic impacts to Colorado citizens.  A major concern is the invasive, high decibel levels of noise that low-level training flights could cause.

Letters signed by U.S. Reps. John Salazar, Jared Polis, Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Betsy Markey, U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet asked that the training flights take into consideration existing civilian and military aviation operations, wilderness areas, agriculture, ski areas and other significant cultural treasures.

The Air Force would like input concerning the proposed action and alternatives, as well as issues to address in the Environmental Assessment. To view information on the proposal to establish a Low Altitude Tactical Navigation area, visit: http://www.cannon.af.mil/index.asp.

For updates and to post comments on this subject, visit www.crestoneeagle.com.