Bureau of Land Management issues decision to authorize expanded military training area in southwest Idaho
BOISE, Idaho – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a decision to enable the Idaho Army National Guard to conduct military training on an additional 44 square miles of Federal and State land located west of Mountain Home and adjacent to the existing Orchard Combat Training Center.
The BLM decision authorizes rights-of-way for the expanded military training area that the Idaho Army National Guard proposed to meet Department of Defense training requirements, ensure troop combat readiness, and offset loss of areas within the Orchard Combat Training Center where training is prohibited to protect native shrublands.
“Fire suppression and habitat restoration efforts by the Idaho Army National Guard within the Orchard Combat Training Center have resulted in an increase in shrublands over the years,” said Brent Ralston, BLM Four Rivers Field Manager. “Our Resource Management Plan for the area restricts heavy equipment training in shrublands and this was the primary reason the Guard looked to train in other areas.”
The expanded training area is currently dominated by invasive annual grasses, like cheatgrass, and is largely devoid of shrubs.
The BLM Four Rivers Field Office manages the proposed expanded military training area, a majority of which are located within the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. The military has been using land in this vicinity for training since the 1940s.
An Environmental Assessment for the proposed expansion was completed to analyze possible impacts from proposed heavy maneuver training between March and November, construction and maintenance of 12.7 miles of dirt roadways, infrastructure development, and engineering practice areas. These actions were determined to be within acceptable levels outlined in the BLM’s Resource Management Plan for the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. The expanded training area will not include live fire exercises.
The BLM and the Idaho Army National Guard are each issuing separate decisions based on the Environmental Assessment. While the BLM decision pertains to authorizing rights-of-way for the expanded military training area, the Idaho Army National Guard decision concerns whether to expand military training onto proposed Federal and State land.
The environmental assessment and decision record can be found at https://go.usa.gov/xsbJZ and is subject to a 30-day appeal period. To file an appeal, submit in writing to Brent Ralston, Four Rivers Field Office, 3948 S Development Ave., Boise, ID 83705.
For more information, contact the BLM Four Rivers Field Office at 208-384-3300.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.