Regional Impact Alert

The Sky Islands region is in danger. February 2022, the U.S. Air Force announced proposals for “SUA Optimization” of New Mexico and Arizona. If permitted, these plans will severely damage rural communities and protected wilderness areas, and lead a sharp change of direction away from the Sky Islands’ unparalleled conditions for research and peaceful contemplation.

Pending risks include:

- Aircraft combat training as low as 100 feet from the ground, as close as 500 feet to people and homes; 2000°F flares dropped from as low as 2000 feet, sonic booms emitted as low as 5000 feet, hundreds of pounds of aluminium-coated glass fibers routinely ejected from as low as 2000 feet (chaff)

- Perpetual threat of wildfire ignited by flares to rural communities and protected wilderness areas sheltering over 70 sensitive/at-risk species including 14 endangered species, plus avian breeding grounds utilized by a raptor population presumed to be the highest combined density/diversity on the planet

- Noise pollution injuries to humans, horses, and wildlife including chronic shock from sonic booms, chronic aural intrusion and startle effects, which are scientifically correlated with deficient motivation, language acquisition, reading, and memory in children; sleep disorders, mental health problems, and cardiovascular disease

- Decimation by sonic boom vibration-triggered emergence of species evolved to only emerge from hibernation when triggered by thunder vibration which signals life-sustaining precipitation, such as Spadefoot toads

- Adverse effects to sensitive aquatic organisms such as endangered pupfish, from broken-down particles of aluminium-coated glass fibres (chaff) which can drift hundreds of miles on wind, and unknown effects to humans, birds, and other animals from respiration of drifting/degraded chaff

- Tremor danger to protected archeological and geological sites, and interference with esteemed regional astronomy

- Withdrawal or reduction of available medical emergency helicopter services

We urge the public to contact elected officials regarding this threat. The Sky Islands are homelands of Southwest Native Nations, internationally revered in scientific research, and a treasure of unparalleled biodiversity.


For reference on this issue:

Our Comments to the US Air Force
Peaceful Chiricahua Skies
US Air Force EIS