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Alaskan Command to Issue Key Document on Expansion of Military Training Ranges

Alaskan Command

Alaskan Command officials say work is nearly done on an Environmental Impact Statement for a proposal to expand airspace over military training ranges and increase the number and types of exercises that will be conducted on those ranges. The document outlines the anticipated impacts of expanding the Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex.

After years of planning and dozens of meetings around the state, the Alaskan Command is putting the finishing touches on the Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for its plan to expand the airspace over the Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex, or JPARC, and to increase the number and intensity of military training exercises that take place on those ranges
Air Force Capt. Tania Bryan, an Alaskan Command spokeswoman, says the public will get a chance to review the EIS after it’s released on March 15th,. Bryan says members of the public will get a chance to see what if any changes were made in in response to feedback submitted over the past year to the draft version of the document.
“This is the public’s last chance to sort of take a look at the final EIS,” Bryan said, “to take a look at their comments that were incorporated from the public comment period and then to see how that affected or changed the EIS in any way.”
Bryan says it’s too late for any further public comment on the JPARC proposal at this point – although input that’s deemed significant and that’s submitted within 30 days after the final document is released may get a mention in the document’s appendices or in another document that’s filed at the end of the process, the Record of Decision.

Credit Alaskan Command
Joint training exercises involving personnel from all the military services are held on the training ranges throughout the JPARC, the nation's largest complex of ranges that can accommodate exercises such as this parachute drop.

“If someone in the public brought up a big concern that did require further investigation, that could still be looked at,” she said. “That’s why we have the 30-day wait period when the public gets to take a look at the document.”
Bryan says the Record of Decision isn’t expected to be issued until early this summer. After that, the Alaskan Command is expected to formally request the Federal Aviation Administration to authorize the increased airspace.
The FAA authorization would permit the military to enlarge an existing MOA located between Paxson and Cantwell to the south to encompass Lake Louise, to the southeast; and to the southwest, nearly to Chickaloon. The Alaskan Command also seeks a new MOA east of Paxson, from Dot Lake to the north to near Gulkana to the south.
The JPARC expansion proposal also seeks more frequent air- and ground-based military training, including live-fire exercises, some of which would last until midnight.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.