Air Force’s Tate’s Hell plan questioned

Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 02:33 PM.

Meanwhile, the FWC letter stated the agency’s confidence that the Air Force’s plans for training in the forests “can be compatible with sound and sustained stewardship of natural resources.”

But another issue for some who question the manner in which the military is seeking permission to use the forests is that Army Special Forces troops already have outflanked the draft of the Air Force’s EIS.

Florida Forest Service records show that the 7th Special Forces Group, based at Eglin Air Force Base, has been granted four “use permits” since September that authorized up to 46 Green Berets to conduct activities in the forest for up to a week at a time.

Attorney Will Dunaway said the National Environmental Policy Act “requires that federal agencies, including the military, evaluate the environmental impacts of their proposed actions before they commit resources to the project.”

Further, “Conducting the training and then scoping an environmental impact statement is backwards,” he said.

But Ackerman said the Army training exercises didn’t result in “any negative feedback from the public with regards to these training events or impacts to public recreation.” He added that the Army’s activities “provide an indication” that military maneuvers can be conducted in the forests without causing environmental damage.

Separately, Dunaway also expressed doubt that the Air Force, which is requesting more access for its own forces and the Army, has fully complied with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act in its impact statement, even though the document exceeds 500 pages.

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