Marine Corps finishes draft statement for Calif. range
The U.S. Marine Corps has completed a Draft Legislative Environmental Impact Statement (Draft LEIS) for the Land Withdrawal Renewal of the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range (CMAGR) for continued use for military training purposes.
The California Desert Protection Act of 1994 withdrew public lands for the CMAGR for 20 years, expiring in 2014. The Act requires the Marine Corps to publicly distribute a Draft LEIS in 2012 if it desires to retain the land for training purposes.
The Notice of Availability of the Draft LEIS on Aug. 31 began a 90-day public comment period, which will include four public meetings. During these open meetings, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed action, the alternatives, and the adequacy and accuracy of the Draft LEIS. The public comment period will end Nov. 30.
The Draft LEIS studies the Marine Corps' request to renew the withdrawal of public lands that form part of the Chocolate Mountain military training range. The Marine Corps has evaluated the potential environmental impacts of four alternatives in the LEIS, including the effects of a No Action Alternative: renewal of the current withdrawn lands in their current form and with their current management arrangements, minor modifications of the range border to enhance training efficiency and public safety, and potential new land and resource management alternatives that could enhance management and efficiency throughout the range.
“For several decades, combat pilots have received the best training possible at the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range and in its airspace. It is vital that we continue to provide these men and women with the ability to train as they fight through this unique training facility,” said Col. Robert C. Kuckuk, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. “It is important that we continue to maintain our excellent relationships with our neighbors throughout this EIS to ensure that we develop the best path forward to meet our mission requirements and carry on our commitment as good neighbors and stewards of the environment.”
The Draft LEIS is available in electronic form at www.chocolatemountainrenewal.com, along with other background information about the Chocolate Mountain Training Range, or in paper format at the Yuma County Library (Main Branch) 2951 S. 21st Drive.
A public review and comment meeting will be held Monday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Yuma Main Library, 2951 S. 21st Drive, in rooms B-C.
Comments can also be mailed in. All comments must be postmarked or received by Nov. 30, to ensure they become part of the official record. Written comments may be submitted via the project website at www.chocolatemountainrenewal.com/Comment/Default.aspx or mailed to:
Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest
ATTN: Ms. Kelly Finn, LEIS Project Manager
Building 1 Central IPT
1220 Pacific Highway
San Diego, CA 92132
For additional questions, contact Capt. Staci Reidinger, MCAS Yuma Public Affairs Officer at (928) 269-3609.