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Comment Period Closes On Low-Level Training Flights

December 30th, 2021 Comments off

US Air Force photo by Sr. Airman Greg L. Davis

Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Barry Hayman and Paul Heimel last week joined local lawmakers, organizations and many individuals in submitting formal comments concerning the Maryland Air National Guard’s planned low-level military aircraft training flights over a wide swath of northcentral Pennsylvania, including most of Potter County. Specifically, the commissioners asked the ANG to hold a public meeting in Potter County to share more details on the plan and to answer questions. They also requested that the agency conduct a full Environmental Impact Study. The request is in response to input the commissioners have received from organizations and citizens who are concerned about the impact of the plan on tourism, the environment and the local way of life. Maryland ANG seeks authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to train A-10 “Warthog” pilots for up to 170 days a year, no longer than four hours per day, in low air space (100 feet from the ground and up) across parts of six counties (see map below)

The Maryland ANG environmental assessment, which determined that the flights pose “no significant impact” on local citizens or the environment, is available at public libraries in Coudersport and Galeton; or online at https://www.175wg.ang.af.mil/Duke-MOA-Low, (click on Duke MOA Low icon).

Military aircraft have trained in the region for many years, but at a higher altitude. Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, which manages state forests and parks, has been studying the potential impacts for more than a year. DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said the flights could “drastically change the character of this region,” with the sound negatively affecting tourism, wildlife and outdoor recreation. DCNR has called on the Maryland ANG to maintain its current flight protocols and operations, or to consider alternative locations. The agency is also calling for an Environmental Impact Study to be conducted, rather than the less detailed “environmental assessment.”