Joint Land Use Study report expected for southern NM, west Texas
Las Cruces (N.M.) Sun-News
LAS CRUCES — Everything from the sound of jets flying over houses to the economic impact of military bases is on the table for evaluation.
The military and civilian entities in southern New Mexico and west Texas want to make sure that they work together well, address any concerns and grow together.
To that end, the Joint Land Use Study contracted by White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base and Fort Bliss, as well as surrounding communities, has reached a halfway point and issued its first report this week.
Liz Drake, lead consultant and project manager with the firm AECOM, the contractor, said that the report will be made public sometime soon.
The study was developed to provide recommendations "to guide future decisions and policy actions by public agencies, military installations and other partners," the JLUS website reports.
El Paso Electric's Bill Conner is a policy committee member representing the New Mexico's Military Base Planning Commission. He said the study, made possible by a $500,000 federal grant, had public input meetings during the summer.
Maj. Gen. Gwen Bingham, commander of WSMR, said that it is important to ensure that the work at the post will continue.
"This is a big deal," Bingham said. "What that's going to do for us is expand our airspace such that we can continually test our various weapons systems.
"We are looking to expand and maintain what we have at White Sands," she said. "We want to be able to continually test as much as we're able to."
Conner said that the study, in part, is to help the military base identify potential problems.
"It's to allow them to continue to do their work," he said. "(To find out if there) are there issues coming up that will hinder them potentially from doing their work."
Drake said there are no more public outreach plans until next year.
"We are continuing to develop our advanced recommendation and continue to look at the findings," she said. "We'll have a number of additional meetings in the spring, particularly as we begin to develop some of the strategies within the report."
Conner said that the grant came from the Office of Economic Adjustments within the Department of Defense. He said that the grant pays for 90 percent of the study and the remaining 10 percent comes from the communities involved.
"For this type of study, it's the largest footprint that OEA has ever undertaken and one of largest grants ever awarded," Conner said. "For the Department of Defense this is kind of an iconic study. It's very important to them."