Need More Air in Dakotas

USAF is pressing forward with plans to expand the Powder River Complex (new name to be Powder River Training Complex) to provide more airspace for training by B-1B and B-52H bombers stationed at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., and Minot AFB, N.D., respectively. Under the most expansive of several alternatives, USAF would expand the low level training space from about 5,900 square miles to 31,700 square miles. The plans would include establishing three new military operating areas in North and South Dakota, southeastern Montana, and a portion of Wyoming. USAF held public scoping meetings last year and now expects to submit a proposal to the FAA by January, followed by a draft environmental impact statement in the spring. Montana lawmakers and some ranchers and private pilots oppose the action, while South Dakota’s Sen. John Thune (R has supported the endeavor. (Ellsworth Web site with expansion information) (Also read Billings Gazette report; Bismarck Tribune report)