LATN environmental assessment results expected within month

Kevin Wilson

Cannon Air Force Base expects to know within a month results of an environmental assessment on its proposal for a Low Altitude Tactical Navigation (LATN) area over Colorado and New Mexico.

According to an email from the public affairs office for the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon, the base expects to release the draft assessment no later than mid-September on its website (cannon.af.mil) and in libraries in potentially affected cities.

Following publication, there will be a 60-day comment period, with comments collected to be included in the final assessment. Also, public meetings will be held at 16 locations throughout Colorado and New Mexico.

The base last year hosted eight public meetings within the proposed 94,000 square mile area that Cannon would train its MC-130 and CV-22 crews. Training would include three training flights, or sorties, a day at 200 feet and higher.

Cannon officials have previously said 95 percent of flights would take place during weekdays, with the majority of flights at or above 500 feet.

The assessment analyzes potential impacts of the training requirements, including “airspace management, noise, airspace safety, air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, land use and recreation, socioeconomics and environmental justice.”

Additionally, the assessment gives weight to issues identified during the eight public meetings.

The wing’s desired result is a FONSI, or Finding of No Significant Impact, which would allow the plans to proceed.

“The mountainous terrain would provide invaluable training to our special operations aircrews preparing for worldwide deployment,” said the public affairs email. “Our air commandos fly extremely challenging missions, and we have a responsibility to send them into harm’s way as well-trained as possible.”

If the assessment determines a significant impact, the wing will consider options in accordance with the assessment and use existing military training routes and airspace.