Idaho Conservationist Ted Trueblood once referred to the remote Owyhee Canyonlands as, “The Big Quiet.” That nickname still holds true today in this landscape of soaring canyons and sweeping sagebrush-covered plateaus.
Now that solitude and silence may be shattered. The Mountain Home Air Force Base (MHAFB) is proposing to dramatically expand low-level and supersonic training exercises in the Owyhee Canyonlands.
Twenty years ago, the Air Force proposed a similar expansion of a bombing range that was roundly criticized by members of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribe of Duck Valley Indian Reservation, sportsmen, conservationists, cattle ranchers, and even retired Air Force pilots. After ten years of negotiations, the Air Force and Idahoans reached a settlement that culminated in the current airspace use agreement that allowed additional training while still protecting the integrity of the Owyhee Canyonlands and the surrounding communities. The Air Force now wants to pivot away from that collaborative agreement. Check MHAFB Airspace EIS for more information.
The Mountain Home Air Force Base has long been an integral part of our community while supporting critical operations and training for the Air Force. We support our military personnel and understand the need for realistic training opportunities. However, the proposal raises grave concerns, including:
- Noise pollution in wilderness areas, marring wilderness values, and tainting recreation opportunities,
- Harm to bighorn sheep and greater sage-grouse, sensitive species that are affected by abrupt, loud, or prolonged disturbances, and
- Potential harmful effects on rural communities and their economies.
ICL is deeply concerned about the Air Force proposal’s negative effects on local ranching operations, wilderness values, recreation experiences, and the plants and animals in the Owyhee canyons and desert. We need your help defending our communities and wildlands from disruptive and harmful low-level, supersonic flights.
Now is the time to speak up and use your voice to protect the Owyhee Canyonlands. Public comments to the Air Force are due next Monday, October 25, and can be submitted on their project website here.
Tell the Air Force:
- How you utilize the Owyhee Canyonlands or plan to do so in the future.
- The importance of silence, solitude, and seeing healthy wildlife in a natural setting.
- How these values would be disrupted by all action alternatives within the Air Force proposal.
- The Air Force should select the “No Action Alternative” until it conducts additional research on wildlife impacts and revises its proposal accordingly.