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Nisqually Tribe relieved by Army's decision not to test rockets at JBLM

Soldiers from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord fire a rocket from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System at Yakima Training Center in this 2010 photo.

JOHNDION MAGSIPOC/U.S. NAVY

By LISA PEMBERTON | The Olympian (Tribune News Service) | Published: March 3, 2017

News that Joint Base Lewis-McChord won’t become a permanent training site for the booming High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, brought relief to the neighboring Nisqually Tribe.

“We are happy that these rocket tests will not be happening so close to our homes, for now,” tribal chairman Farron McCloud said on Friday.

The tribe unsuccessfully tried to stop the firing of practice HIMARS rockets at JBLM for three days in September. When that didn’t work, tribal officials vowed to continue fighting against JBLM becoming home to regular testing of the rockets, which have the potential to create a sonic boom.

On Thursday, JBLM announced that Army leaders have decided to not pursue further environmental study on the training site proposal. In September, 27 reduced-range practice round (RRPR) rockets were fired on JBLM as part of a noise study.

“Although the noise study states ‘HIMARS (RRPR) would not produce noise levels which exceed those from existing training operations at JBLM,’ we have other emerging priorities that we must put our efforts and resources toward at this time,” JBLM base commander Col. Daniel S. Morgan said in a news release.

In its decision, the Army took into account input from JBLM’s neighboring communities and partners, including the Nisqually Tribe, Morgan said.

Moving training for the truck-mounted missile system from the Yakima Training Center to JBLM would have saved money and solved logistical issues. But tribal officials said they were concerned about the noise and its impact on wildlife, local residents and the environment.

“We look forward to working to continue strengthening our relationship with our neighbor as we always have,” McCloud said.

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©2017 The Olympian (Olympia, Wash.)
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