Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – The Army has prepared a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the proposed growth, realignment, and stationing of new and existing Army aviation assets. The proposed action includes the consolidation and reorganization of existing aviation units and the potential establishment of one or more Combat Aviation Brigades (CABs). The proposed action will increase the availability of helicopter assets to meet current and future national security requirements and will allow the Army to better organize existing aviation assets to promote more effective training and force management.
The Army invites all interested members of the public, including native communities and federally recognized Native American Tribes, federal, state, and local agencies to submit written comments on environmental issues, concerns and opportunities analyzed in the Draft PEIS. The PEIS is available online. Written comments on the Draft PEIS will be accepted for 45 days after the publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Comments can be sent by e-mail or by fax to (410) 436-1693 or mailed to the address below: Public Affairs Office, U.S. Army Environmental Command, 1835 Army Boulevard, BSMT (Bldg 2000), Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-2686
The Draft PEIS evaluates the environmental impacts associated with the proposed action, which also includes the construction and renovation of garrison facilities, as well as additional training needed to support the aviation units. Land acquisition is not being considered as part of this action.
The Draft PEIS considers three alternatives, plus a no action alternative:
Alternative 1 – Realign and station existing aviation elements of up to a full CAB or grow, activate and station a new CAB, at Fort Carson, Colo. Under this alternative, the Army will consolidate existing aviation units not currently assigned to a CAB into a standard CAB structure at Fort Carson or activate a new CAB at Fort Carson. As part of this alternative, aviation units will conduct training on existing land at Pinion Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS), Colo. in order to maintain training proficiency and support integrated training with ground units. Land acquisition is not being considered as part of this action.
Alternative 2 – Realign and station existing aviation elements of up to a full CAB or grow, activate and station a new CAB at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash. Under this alternative, the Army will consolidate existing aviation units not currently assigned to a CAB into a standard CAB structure at JBLM or activate a new CAB at JBLM. As part of this alternative, aviation units will conduct training on existing training land at Yakima Training Center (YTC), Wash. in order to maintain training proficiency and support integrated training with ground units. Land acquisition is not being considered as part of this action.
Alternative 3 – Implement Alternatives 1 and 2. Under this alternative, the Army will implement both alternatives. Under this alternative, the consolidated units forming a CAB would be stationed at one installation, and the new CAB would be activated and stationed at the other installation. Fort Carson and JBLM would each gain up to one CAB. As part of this alternative, aviation units would conduct training on existing training land at the installation’s training maneuver area (PCMS for Fort Carson and YTC for JBLM) in order to maintain training proficiency and support integrated training with ground units. Alternative 3 is the Army’s preferred alternative.
Alternative 4 – No-Action Alternative. Under this alternative, the Army would retain its aviation force structure at its current levels, configurations, and locations.
Fort Carson and JBLM are the only stationing alternatives that meet all of the Army’s stationing requirements for new CAB stationing. These locations have existing runways and airfields, provide adequate maneuver and airspace for CAB operations, and are equipped with existing training ranges that can support CAB training. Most importantly, Fort Carson and JBLM are the only major installations that have three or more Brigade Combat Teams but no CAB dedicated to provide aviation support for training. The proposed action would allow the Army to maximize integrated air-ground training.
The Draft PEIS assesses, considers, and compares the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects of proposed CAB growth and realignment for each alternative. The primary environmental issues evaluated include impacts to air quality, soil, airspace, cultural resources, natural resources, and noise. In addition, the Army considers those issues identified by the public and other organizations during the public scoping period.
Environmental impacts associated with the implementation of the proposed action would include significant impacts to transportation on the Interstate 5 corridor near JBLM and to fish and water quality in Puget Sound. There are potentially significant impacts to biological resources at YTC from potential increase in wildfire and habitat degradation associated with aviation training. Impacts would also include significant but mitigable impacts to soils at Fort Carson, PCMS, and YTC, as well as significant but mitigable impacts to water resources at YTC. At PCMS, cumulative impacts to soils are predicted to be manageable with current dust control mitigation techniques. Impacts to cultural resources, air quality, noise impacts, public land use, and socio-economic impacts were all determined to be less than significant.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Public Affairs Office, U.S. Army Environmental Command, ATTN: IMPA-AE, 1835 Army Blvd, Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-2686, (210) 221-0882.