Conservation groups sue Air Force to protect wilderness

Photo credit: NASA/NASA Image and Video Library

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition reports that conservation groups in Oregon, Nevada and Idaho are suing the U.S. Air Force to ban low-altitude F-15 flights over the Owyhee Wilderness Area. The conservation groups argue that the Air Force’s decision to “intensify” F-15 trainings in that airspace will “increase noise, fire risk and harm habitat” across the 7.5 million acres stretching across all three states. F-15 flights are noisy, especially the low-level flights that Air Force pilots are trained on. This low altitude, 100 feet, reflects the current combat environment in many places of the world.

Loud noise of any type, whether from gas and oil equipment, road traffic or low-level military aircraft, is disruptive to birds and mammals. It causes stress and interferes with their ability to find food, avoid predators, communicate and mate. Low-level F-15 flights can produce sounds at 110-120 decibels. This is loud enough to cause noise-induced hearing loss in the affected animals.

We recognize the need for pilots to train in realistic combat settings, but implore the Air Force to train pilots in a less sensitive environment.

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