|The US Army's plans to expand operations at 17 facilities in 12 states over the next six years to accommodate up to about 75,000 troops and support personnel will have major environmental impacts, the Army acknowledged in a draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement released Aug. 24, 2007. Draft PEIS. Media: Bob DiMichele, 410-436-1651.
The potentially affected facilities are:
AZ: Yuma Proving Ground
Each would be home to at least 1,000 more people, and some would host a brigade combat team, which includes about 3,500 to 4,000 people.
The Army says the expansion plans, which address functions such as firing ranges, training grounds, housing, and support facilities such as hospitals and shopping areas, could have significant, long-term impacts at nearly every facility, such as air, water, and noise pollution, habitat degradation, air traffic congestion, energy consumption, and drinking water depletion. However, the expansions would occur on land already under Army jurisdiction, so don't involve new lands.
The 45-day public comment period ended Oct. 8, 2007. The final PEIS is expected to be finalized in about 30 days, after which there will be a 30-day review, followed by the final Record of Decision expected before the end of 2007.
From that point, each facility would undergo site-specific environmental analysis deemed appropriate for the scope of work, such as an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. All planning processes for the facilities are expected to be completed no later than 2013. Construction would follow.
In separate actions, the Army is trying to obtain hundreds of thousands of acres from other landowners southeast of Fort Carson in Colorado and near Yuma in Arizona for large-scale training purposes. Those plans are meeting with stiff resistance by some, and avid support by others. Along with environmental effects, there are major issues of national security, the future nature of warfare, states' rights vs. federal rights, eminent domain, and other economic, social, and cultural impacts. Tangible plans for each site are in the very early stages.
As with these two major expansion proposals, there are dozens of area sources for information on the on-site growth plans for the 17 bases, including Army officials, local businesses, landowners, homeowners, environmentalists, and local, state, and federal politicians. Many sources will be familiar to those who have covered the bases in the past. But it may also be useful to seek out new sources, since this is a new era in Army strategy that is drawing new supporters and critics.