Public comment welcomed about developing a Heavy Off-Road Mounted Maneuver Training Area
FORT BENNING, Ga. – The U.S. Army intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act to analyze impacts associated with the Army’s proposal to develop, operate, and maintain a HOMMTA. The HOMMTA requires at least 2,400 contiguous acres on Fort Benning to support off-road armor vehicle movement and maneuver. The training area would support the Maneuver Center of Excellence and tenant units’ missions to train the Army’s maneuver forces. The action would increase Fort Benning’s available heavy off-road maneuver training area, reducing on-post competition for maneuver space.
Fort Benning, located in west-central Georgia and east-central Alabama, comprises approximately 182,000 acres of federally owned land. Fort Benning is the MCoE’s home, which includes the Infantry and Armor Schools, and several deployable units that conduct heavy off-road maneuver training. The deployable units include the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, Task Force 1-28 Infantry, and elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment, among several others. Fort Benning’s missions include supporting these units and providing them with sufficient maneuver acreage to conduct demanding, realistic training. The Army has identified a need to establish this additional heavy maneuver area so Fort Benning can meet its Soldiers’ and units’ training requirements.
From 2012 through present, the Army has been developing an approximately 11,000-acre portion of Fort Benning, called the Good Hope Maneuver Training Area, to support this type of training. Due to recent changes in Army maneuver training requirements, additional off-road maneuver training areas are required within the Installation. Developing the training area would include constructing tank trails, water crossings, support facilities, and upgrading some roads. Buffers would be used to protect environmentally sensitive resources, such as surface waters.
The EIS will analyze three distinct Fort Benning location alternatives: (1) Northern Mounted Maneuver Training Area Alternative, including 4,723 acres in the northeastern portion of the installation; (2) Red Diamond alternative, including 3,743 acres on the installation’s southern boundary; and (3) Eastern Boundary alternative, including 2,405 acres on the installation’s eastern boundary. The alternative of taking no action and continuing with the status quo will also be analyzed.
The EIS will analyze resource areas including: land use, aesthetics, air quality, noise, geology and soils, water resources, biological resources, cultural resources, socioeconomics and environmental justice, traffic and transportation, utilities, and hazardous and toxic materials/waste. The EIS will also analyze potential cumulative environmental effects. The EIS will also present mitigation measures to reduce potential adverse effects.
The public is invited to participate in the EIS scoping process. The scoping process includes a public scoping meeting, which is the public’s opportunity to receive information about the Proposed Action and assist the Army in identifying issues related to the Proposed Action. The public scoping meeting is scheduled after publishing a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register. This meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Columbus Consolidated Government Annex; Columbus, Georgia.
All interested parties are invited to attend the public meetings and to submit comments or questions in person or by mail to Mr. John Brown, Fort Benning Environmental Management Division, (706) 545-7549, during normal business hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. Written comments may be mailed to the Fort Benning Environmental Management Division, Attn: NEPA Program Manager, 6650 Meloy Drive, Building 6, Room 309, Fort Benning, Georgia 31905-5122, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments will be accepted until March 12, 2019.
The scoping process officially begins when the Federal Register publishes the NOI. Public scoping comments should be submitted in the 30 days following that publication or 15 days after the last scoping meeting, whichever is later. The public will also be invited to review and comment on the Draft EIS when it is available for review. Comments from the public will be considered before any decision is made regarding implementing the Proposed Action.
For further information, please contact Mr. John Brown at (706) 545-7549, or email at email@example.com.