The Army is seeking to make a 10-year-old crash program permanent to prepare Fort Carson chopper pilots for combat in Afghanistan by training in high terrain owned by the Bureau of Land Management.Since its interim approval in 2010, the program has used mountain landing sites in El Paso, Park, Teller and Fremont counties to train helicopter crews before they head overseas. But Army efforts to get permanent approval for such use of federal lands has faced opposition from landowners and environmental groups who say helicopters disrupt the natural wonders of the Rockies, harass wildlife and pose safety concerns.“We believe that both the Army and BLM have failed to recognize and appreciate the existence of our rural residential community and the adverse impacts to be reasonably anticipated from the long term low-altitude overflights of military helicopters en route to their various exercise landing zones,” wrote one homeowners association in western Fremont County. The BLM isn’t speeding its process to evaluate the Army’s proposal, said spokesman Brant Porter, but it hopes another series of public comments will help it find an alternative that works for all parties.“We aren’t jumping ahead quite yet,” Porter said.Comments are invited through Sept. 11 and can be… Read full this story
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