I received a message from Sean Young, a Tibetan Buddhist friend in Idaho, asking if I could pass this along to readers of The Jizo Chronicles. The letter below speaks for itself, for the most part — the town of Crestone, Colorado, is the home of a number of Buddhist temples and sanghas as well as other spiritual communities. Please note that the deadline for comments on this issue is November 15.
Dear Noble Sangha and Friends,
The Air Force is proposing to use the mountains of Crestone as practice grounds for the war in Afghanistan. We are requesting you to send an email to the Air Force strongly urging them to not allow the Low Altitude Technical Navigation program to be allowed to fly in the San Luis Valley, home to our retreat center, Samten Ling (along with other Buddhist retreat centers).
If allowed to proceed, they would fly low altitude (200 ft.) “sorties” (groups of big, loud military planes) per night, 5 hours in duration each, half of that at low altitude.
The emails need to include what would be the significant impacts that would occur if this program is allowed to be implemented in Crestone. These can include spiritual practice, wilderness, quietude, enjoyment of the night sky, air quality, peace of mind, heart and body, health, economy, wildlife, agriculture, recreation. Here are some ideas for the main points, but the letters need to be individually composed:
1. Ask for an Environmental Impact Statement or EIS to be performed. This should be done rather than an EA (Environmental Assessment), which has much lower parameters.
2. Ask for an extended comments period, because many people who would be affected have not yet heard about it.
3. The level of noise could have extremely negative impacts on the economy here, which is based on spiritual retreats, [tourism, etc.]
4. We certainly want our pilots well-trained, but the bulk of this can be done by simulations.
5. In the not-so-unlikely event of a plane crash, the Air Force has stated that they would not be able to help fight any possible fires that could result.
6. Air pollution can come from many of the activities that they are planning– not just the act of their flying over the valley but also the pilots practicing mid-air fueling.
7. Wildlife would be negatively affected by the noise and the pollution. We have some unique ecosystems here that would be vulnerable. The Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR part 27.34 Aircraft) prohibits unauthorized operation of aircraft at altitudes resulting in harassment of wildlife, and the LATN proposal falls within these prohibited altitude levels.
Please address these emails to 27SOWpublicaffairs@cannon.af.mil.
They need to hear from as many of us as possible, and we need to highlight for them as many issues as possible, because what we express has to be recorded, acknowledged and addressed in the EIS or EA. The deadline for comments is November 15th. The preferred method of communication would be email; however, communications can be made by phone (575-784-4131), fax (575-784-7412), or mail (Cannon AFB Public Affairs, 110 E Sextant, Suite 1150, Cannon AFB, NM 88103). We urge you to take the time to write in the next few days in order to protect our sacred land as well as those of other spiritual communities.
Yours in the Dharma,