Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Flight proposal likely to affect many

Comments provided at the Air National Guard's public hearing in Farmington regarding the draft Environmental Impact Study of the condor 1 and condor 2 military operations area proposal was more than outstanding. Once again, concerned people of western Maine stood together to voice their concerns in a genuine effort to protect and preserve the splendor and quality of life that has brought and kept them here.

Most were very familiar with the draft study and nearly everyone who spoke expressed sincere gratitude to the Guard for the service it provides in safeguarding Maine people and in protecting our nation. It is clear, however, there are many, many people who are not only concerned about the proposal to lower minimum altitude requirements in the area, but who are also deeply disturbed and disappointed by the conclusions made in the so-called Environmental Impact Study (EIS) regarding the proposal.

Indeed, the EIS more than falls short in adequately addressing concerns raised about the proposal. Its assertions the proposal "would not contribute to significant cumulative effects on land use or the tourism industry; nor would it produce any significant noise, health or safety impacts" borderlines absurdity. Not only is the statement subjective, the report does nothing to quantify how it came to such a conclusion.

People who commented on the study provided specific explanations as to the reason for their opposition and questioned the validity of conclusions offered. Concerns were numerous, and justified. The study fails to adequately address all species of wild life that would likely be affected; concerns about noise and safety impacts clearly were not taken seriously; as were worries about the lack of attention the study gives the Penobscot Nation, and recreational and other natural resources, including the Appalachian Trail. People who commented truly had paid attention to the Guard's study (or lack there of); and were sincere in asking the Guard to take them seriously; that is go back to the drawing board and as a result of genuine concern for Western Maine, withdraw the proposal as it previously was in the past.

Imagine, working peacefully in your garden, kayaking on Clearwater or Toothaker Pond, hiking or horseback riding on a back country trail or hunting anywhere in western Maine. Now imagine the sound of a low-flying condor military plane just 500 feet over your head. Now imagine a loon in the water, the deer in the woods or your kids peacefully picking blueberries or a pumpkin from one of the many patches in Franklin County. I don't see how anyone can say with a straight face, that lowering the minimum flight requirements won't have any significant impact on the quality of life here.

It's not too late to share your feelings and voice your concerns about the Environmental Impact Study. The comment deadline has been extended through January 1, 2010. You can send your comments in a letter or email to Lt. Col. Mike Milord at National guard Bureau Public Affairs, Jefferson Plaza 1, 1411 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Ste 11200, Arlington, VA, 20222. mike.milord1@us.army.mil. It would also help to contact your Congressional representatives to let them know how you feel about the study and the proposal and urge them to help. You may check out information about the proposal and the EIS at www.westernmainematters.org.  Now is truly is the time to share your voice and make a difference.

Ann Woloson
Belgrade Lakes

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3 Responses »

  1. Thanks Ann for attending the meeting and voicing your concerns!

    Hope to hear more from you in the coming months!

  2. I think big silvery things in the sky are nice, just like windmills, you won't even notice them after a while!

  3. Ann Woloson's thoughtful and clear summary of the low-flight hearing on Sat., Nov. 14, paints a clear picture of what these loud and potentially frightening low test flights would actually mean to the people and animals of Western Maine. I agree that the Guard needs places for test flights, but their poorly thought-out plan ignores the realities of life here for residents and tourists. I applaud Ann for pointing out how much we can accomplish for our region when we stand together with one voice, as we are on this issue.

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