Thank you, JBLM

The OlympianNovember 19, 2013 

Spc. Laneil Williams (left), civilian instructor Alfonia Townsend, and Sgt. John Cooper (right) wait for a hovering Blackhawk helicopter to maneuver closer so they can attach a sling load in training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, July 26, 2013. The training involved various ground and air units of the 7th Infantry Division.

PETER HALEY; STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Army has scuttled plans to routinely fly helicopters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord on training missions over civilian communities in Pierce and Thurston counties.

That’s a good thing, considering the fuss the training flights caused last year.

The off-base routes were suspended about a year ago after base officials were bombarded with complaints from civilians who said their lives were made miserable by the noisy, intrusive flight patterns.

Shortly thereafter, army officials realized they had not done the required federal environmental review before expanding off-base training activities.

Now comes word that the environmental review would need to be more rigorous than originally thought and could cost millions of dollars.

“It was cost prohibitive,” said base Commander Col. Charles Hodges.

At the same time, base officials have concluded they can conduct helicopter training on base and at the Yakima Training Center without compromising their mission.

There will still be the occasional off-base flight over civilian areas, but not the intense maneuvers that triggered the public outcry in 2012.

Sounds like this flap between neighbors and the military base is over.

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