PA Wilds Center seeks full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for proposed low level flights
Other organizations, individuals invited to sign on to letter requesting EIS
In response to a proposal from the Maryland Air National Guard (ANG) to conduct low-altitude military training over a significant portion of the Pennsylvania Wilds, the nonprofit that promotes the 13-county region as an outdoor recreation destination as a way to support rural economies is asking the ANG to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to holistically evaluate the proposal. The nonprofit, the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center), has also invited other organizations to sign on to a separate letter with the same request.
The ANG recently released its Draft Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Draft Final Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on the proposed Low Military Operations Airspace over the Pennsylvania Wilds region and has opened a 45-day public comment period on the drafted document. All comments are due by May 17.
PA Wilds Center is asking that the ANG complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), extend the public comment period, and consider other possible locations for their ongoing military training operations due to the prospective risks and negative impacts these drills are likely to cause in our region.
The proposal would allow training units to fly as low as 100 feet above ground level (AGL) for up to 170 days per year over a six-county portion of the PA Wilds. Primary counties impacted would be Cameron, Clinton, Elk, McKean, Potter and Tioga. Training is currently limited to 8,000 feet above mean sea level (MSL) – or 6,000-7,000 AGL. Once the new MOA is approved, other ANGs from across the United States would have the ability to also utilize the airspace.
“We have major concerns about this proposal and how it could impact decades of work to position this region as a premier outdoor recreation destination and wildlife corridor. The PA Wilds is one of 11 official tourism regions in the Commonwealth. The region is also one of eight state-designated Conservation Landscapes because of its unique natural and heritage assets. Our 13-county region is home to the greatest concentration of public lands in Pennsylvania,” said Ta Enos, Founder and CEO of the PA Wilds Center.
PA Wilds Center staff has also heard concerns from regional stakeholders ranging from potential adverse impacts on wildlife, livestock and historic sites, to the safety of residents, visitors and aircraft operators in a rugged region with limited and disparate volunteer emergency services and clinics. All of these concerns should be considered in a full EIS.
“Thanks to the work of many organizations, businesses and individuals over the past two decades, tourism is a driving economic force in the region – a $1.6B industry that makes up 11 percent of the region’s economy. This sustainable industry is also helping to make our region’s communities – and major employers in them – more competitive by helping to create and sustain the types of amenities that improve rural quality of life and help attract and retain a strong workforce,” Enos said. “The Maryland ANG’s proposal could have a devastating impact on nature tourism development efforts in the PA Wilds and on the many rural residents who depend on this industry for their livelihoods.”
The PA Wilds Center’s letter to the ANG can be viewed here.
In addition to submitting its comments asking for a more robust Environmental Impact Statement, the PA Wilds Center is also coordinating the sign-on letter requesting public meetings. To read or sign the letter requesting public meetings, visit the online form here by midnight on Sunday, May 14.
View the webinar PA Wilds Center held on April 24 on behalf of regional stakeholders here.
ABOUT THE PA WILDS
The Pennsylvania Wilds is a 13-county region that includes the counties of Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Warren, and northern Centre. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that inspires the communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds. The PA Wilds Center promotes the region as a premier outdoor recreation destination as a way to diversify local economies, inspire stewardship, attract investment, retain population and improve quality of life. The PA Wilds Center’s core programs seek to help businesses leverage the PA Wilds brand and connect with new market opportunities, including: the Wilds Cooperative of PA, a network of over 300 place-based businesses and organizations, and the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, a retail outlet primarily featuring products sourced from the WCO. For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit www.PAWildsCenter.org. To learn more about the WCO, visit www.WildsCoPA.org. Explore the PA Wilds at www.PAWilds.com. Find regionally made products at www.ShopThePAWilds.com.
Britt Madera | Communications Manager
PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.
[email protected] | 570-948-1051