Military Maneuvers in Cibola National Forest Near Magdalena, NM
The military has been training in the Magdalena Ranger District of Cibola National Forest for a long time. Most of us who live, work, hunt, or hike in the Bear Mountains north of Highway 60 experience frequent low-flying helicopters and other aircraft. The noise of these machines shakes our houses and wakes us up at night. It scares wildlife and cattle.
Many have also encountered ground-based training – with pyrotechnics, combat simulations, dozens of soldiers traveling through the forest at night.
The military wants to continue and expand its training on public land near Magdalena. It has now proposed building three new helicopter landing zones, and increasing the number of field training exercises. Such additional training would dramatically increase the impact on local residents, wildlife, and the environment.
This film documents the impacts of the existing training on some residents of the area. There are many more stories that could be told. We call on the Forest Service and the Air Force to take steps now to stop these harmful activities. We also urge the Forest Service not to grant a permit to expand training in the Magdalena Ranger District.
Our pilots and soldiers deserve the best possible training. Questions arise as to whether Cibola National Forest is the most suitable place for such training. Given that the Department of Defense already controls nearly 5000 square miles of New Mexico land, we feel it should be responsible for identifying military properties more suitable for this mission. For example, the San Andres Mountains have terrain and elevations similar to that of the Bears and are completely contained by the White Sands Missile Range with its attendant services.
We ask the Forest Service to reconsider allowing the military to use public land for such intense training, and to focus instead on its mission:
“to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”