Montana Rep. Daines seeks changes to bomber-training area

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana congressman said Monday that he wants the U.S. Air Force to scale back a proposal that would expand a bomber training site over parts of four states.

Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines asked the Air Force to remove from its plans a vast swath of airspace above southeast Montana, northwest South Dakota and southwest North Dakota.

Daines’ office said the proposed enlargement of the Powder River Training Complex threatens to disrupt medical flights and monitoring flights by the oil and gas industry.

The Air Force plan also includes airspace above Wyoming. It would more than triple the area that can be used in training exercises for B-1 and B-52 bombers based in the Dakotas.

A final environmental study on the proposal is pending.

If the Air Force won’t remove the disputed area, Daines asked officials to raise the minimum altitude for aircraft and provide radar capabilities to help prevent accidents.

Daines requested the changes in a letter to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III.

A spokesman for James said Monday that her office had not yet received the letter.

Montana U.S. Senators John Walsh and Jon Tester have opposed the expansion and criticized federal officials for not providing enough opportunities for public comment on the matter.

The Air Force has said the expanded area would help pilots practice bomb runs, defensive maneuvers and evasive actions.

The Powder River Training Complex now spans about 8,300 square miles. That space can accommodate only one or two bombers at a time. As a result, some B-1s from South Dakota’s Ellsworth Air Force Base and B-52’s from North Dakota’s Minot Air Force Base have flown to Utah or Nevada for their combat exercises.

More in Local News

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has asked for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-run cases in the state.

Everett man killed at bar had criminal history, gang ties

A bar employee reportedly shot Matalepuna Malu, 29, whose street name was “June Bug.”

Front Porch

EVENTS Autoharpist in Everett Folksinger, storyteller and autoharp virtuoso Adam Miller returns… Continue reading

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Most Read