|OMD Announces Availability of Draft Environmental Assessment for Proposed Weapons Training Ranges
The Oregon Military Department (OMD) announced today the availability of the Draft Environmental Assessment, Boardman Bombing Range Complex, New Weapons Training Ranges. This draft environmental assessment (EA) analyzes the potential environmental effects from the proposed construction and operation of four live-fire weapons training ranges on the former Boardman Bombing Range, now known as the Naval Weapons System Training Facility, Boardman, located south of Boardman, Oregon. Copies of the draft EA are available for review at the Boardman and Heppner Libraries in Morrow County, from the Environmental Branch of the Oregon Military Department in Salem, or via the internet at www.mil.state.or.us/AGI-E/.
The OMD is providing a 30-day public review period for the draft EA which will end on Sept. 1. Substantive comments received during the public review period will be addressed in the final EA. The final EA is expected to result in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FNSI) for the proposed action. The final EA and a draft FNSI also will be made available for public review before they are adopted by the ORARNG.
The proposed action consists of constructing, maintaining, and operating four live-fire weapons training ranges to allow Oregon Army National Guard (ORARNG) soldiers to train more effectively, thereby improving current readiness and strength. ORARNG soldiers currently must travel to out-of-state installations to conduct certain live-fire training and complete annual weapons qualification requirements because Oregon lacks appropriate training facilities. Out-of-state training poses greater logistical and scheduling problems, incurs additional travel costs and travel times, reduces time available for actual soldier training, and can adversely affect the ability of the ORARNG to recruit and retain soldiers.
The draft EA analyzes the proposed action, an alternative location of the ranges on the Bombing Range, and a no-action alternative. The proposed action consists of constructing and operating a Multi-Purpose Training Range (MPTR) for fighting vehicles with larger mounted weapons, a Multi-Purpose Machinegun Range (MPMGR) for machine guns and other light weapons, and two Convoy Live-Fire (CLF) ranges for practicing response to hostile threats during vehicle convoy operations. Support facilities for the ranges also would be constructed.
The MPTR, which would be used primarily for training with vehicles such as M1 Abrams main battle tanks and M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, would consist of a screening lane to bore-sight weapons and two training lanes. Each training lane would be approximately 3,000 meters long and would include two parallel gravel course roads varying between approximately 150 and 500 meters apart, with up to eight firing positions total for the two lanes combined. The two parallel roads would meet at the end of each lane and crossovers between the lanes may be added between firing positions. Stationary and moving targets would be located at varying distances, up to approximately 2,500 meters from the firing positions. Weapons used on the range would include light and heavy machine guns, 25mm cannons, 120mm cannons, and Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) missiles.
Support facilities for the MPTR would consist of up to nine structures including two 800 square foot (sq. ft.) buildings for range operations, a 600 sq. ft., two-bay, covered bleacher, an 800 sq. ft. general instruction building, an 800 to 1,500 sq. ft. after-action review building, an 800 sq. ft. covered eating area, a 120 sq. ft., ammunition distribution building, an ammunition loading dock, and portable, self-contained bathrooms. The MPTR would also have a unit staging area and an unimproved bivouac area.
The MPMGR would be used to train soldiers in the use of various small arms, up to and including .50 caliber rifles and machine guns. The range would consist of 10 firing lanes with multiple stationary and moving targets in each lane. Four lanes in the center of the MPMGR would be designed for long-range shooting to a distance of 1,500 meters. The other six lanes would extend out to 1,000 meters.
Support facilities for the MPMGR would consist of up to seven structures including two 800 sq. ft. buildings for range operations, a 600 sq. ft., two-bay covered bleacher, an 800 sq. ft. general instruction building (classroom), an 800 sq. ft. covered eating area, a 120 sq. ft. ammunition breakdown building, and portable, self-contained bathrooms. A 2,150 sq. ft. building for range administrative purposes would be constructed to serve both ranges.
Two existing road systems of 5.9 and 2.2 miles in length on the Bombing Range would be used for CLF ranges. These ranges would be used for practicing troop leadership and weapons engagement skills, convoy operations planning and risk management, using Rules of Engagement, reaction to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and conducting convoy battle drills. Portable targets and other devices would be placed on the ground within 150 meters of the roads. The targets would be protected by the placement of timbers and sand bags around them. When the ranges are not in use, the targets, timbers, and sandbags would be removed and placed in storage. No permanent facilities, targets, or other devices would be constructed and there would be no alteration of the existing terrain for the CLF ranges. There would be no separate support facilities associated with the CLF ranges.
The second alternative analyzed in the EA involves the placement of the proposed ranges on the Boardman Range in a different configuration. The provisions of that alternative were found to have greater environmental impacts in order to complete appropriate site preparation, with little or no benefits. In addition, alternatives to the proposed action at another location were extremely limited. Potential locations for the weapons training ranges were screened against several criteria including a location within the State of Oregon owned by the State or federal government, at least 9,000 undeveloped acres to contain the safety zones associated with the ranges and large enough to allow simultaneous operations of at least two ranges to enable maximum training throughput, suitable terrain, and minimal potential adverse effects to the natural and human environment. The OMD also sought a location that was previously, or is currently, used for similar purposes. Potential alternatives to the proposed action that were considered and discarded included modification of existing ranges at existing ORARNG installations. However, no ORARNG installations have sufficient land available to accommodate the ranges and their required safety zones.
The no-action alternative provides an environmental baseline with which the proposed action and second alternative can be compared. Under the no-action alternative, existing ORARNG weapons training would not change.
For further information on the draft EA, please contact: Mr. Jeff Mach, Natural Resources Manager, Oregon Military Department, P.O. Box 14350, Salem, OR 97309; telephone (503) 584-3493; email: Jeff.Mach@us.army.mil.
Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office
Capt Mike Braibish