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Public Comment Period for Michigan Air National Guard Airspace Reconfiguration Closes, Feedback Under Review

LANSING, Mich. – The public comment period for the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Modification and Addition of Airspace at the Alpena Special Use Airspace (SUA) Complex, prepared by the Michigan Air National Guard (MIANG) and the National Guard Bureau (NGB), has closed, effective Jan. 14. The Draft EA was prepared to consider the potential impacts to the human and natural environment associated with the modification and utilization of the Alpena SUA Complex. The feedback received from community members, stakeholders and agencies is now under review by the NGB.

Following analysis, a Final EA will be prepared that considers any additional information and answers substantive questions raised during the public comment period. The EA is prepared by a third-party contractor in coordination with the NGB. The estimated timeline for completion of the Final EA is late summer 2023. If approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airspace would be officially charted in late 2023.

“We appreciate each and every comment received over the past 60 days,” said Brig. Gen. Bryan Teff, commander of the MIANG. “Public commenting is an important part of this process, as mandated by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). Substantive input allows the NGB to make better and more informed decisions and helps further the Final EA for this action.”

The airspace reconfiguration proposal is a culmination of years-long coordination with the FAA, the NGB, and local communities to modify existing military operating areas (MOAs) at low and medium altitudes and create some new MOAs on a limited basis within the Alpena SUA.

The public comment period for the Draft EA originally opened on Nov. 14. In accordance with 40 CFR 1501.6(a) and 32 CFR 989.15(e)(2)(v), the public is offered an opportunity to review and provide input on a proposed action during the public comment period. These regulations state that public, state, tribal, and local governments, and relevant agencies should be involved in the preparation of an EA to the extent practicable with a standard public comment period of 30 days. The period was extended by the MIANG for an additional 30 days until Jan. 14 to allow stakeholders more time to offer feedback.

“We’d like to reiterate that this airspace proposal is designed to improve pilot safety and the overall capability of our existing airspace complex, not the actual number of flights,” said Teff. “The projected sound impacts were modeled in the Draft EA using worse-case scenario figures, in some cases several times greater than the existing number of flights. We do not expect a significant increase in the number of flights, regardless of whether the Proposed Action is approved.”

The MIANG airspace reconfiguration is a separate process from the Camp Grayling land access request ongoing with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The FAA is the deciding agency for airspace.

The NGB’s Draft EA for the Modification and Addition of Airspace at the Alpena SUA Complex can be viewed in its entirety at the following link: https://www.alpenacrtc.ang.af.mil/.

For more information or questions, please contact the Michigan National Guard public affairs office: ng.mi.miarng.list.pao@mail.mil.