Military Training Routes

ALCOM Public Affairs 10/31/12
9480 Pease Avenue, Suite 120
JBER, AK 99506

Dear JPARC Modernization and Enhancement DEIS Planners,

The Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) is a statewide organization dedicated to the protection of natural quiet for the benefit of both people and wildlife. The opportunities to experience the natural sounds of nature have long been recognized as an essential human right (UNESCO). Both state and national public lands management plans recognize the need to protect natural quiet as a natural resource. Wildlife managers reference the many ways in which human generated mechanical noise interferes with and adds stress to wildlife communication, nesting, foraging, and reproduction.

It has recently been brought to the attention of AQRC that Military Training Routes with very low altitude limits and supersonic speeds cross the skies of Alaska. Through many complaints to AQRC from members we have been aware of multiple instances of very low flying military planes terrifying backcountry users and animals alike. Climbers on small mountains on public lands have had the experience of looking down on such low flying aircraft. This is not just hearsay. I am one of them—a late middle aged woman on a modest hill in the Talkeetna Mountains seeing and hearing an ear-busting military aircraft go through a pass below me. Are these flights examples of what is occurring in these MTRs, the existence of which we, the public, were left unaware?

References to MTR are buried in the JPARC Modernization and Enhancement DEIS. There is no way that the public can find or evaluate the very existence of this menace to people and wildlife by looking at the DEIS. This lack of openness and accountability seems purposefully deceptive.

AQRC has commented on the proposed expansion of the MOAs. We objected to both the expansions and the lowering of altitude limits. AQRC now objects to both the failure of the military to bring MTR to public review and to the existence of MTR and their onerous altitude and speed allowances. Neither the low altitudes nor the speeds are compatible with wildlife needs nor human needs for natural peace and quiet.

How can we, as citizens, rein in the absolute power of the military to take away our public natural resources?

We look forward to your reply. Please also include these comments in the JPARC EIS official record.

Elizabeth Hatton
AQRC member