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Marine Corps Plans To Expand Training Area At 29 Palms

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Aired 4/12/11

The Marine Corps wants to expand its base at 29 Palms. The base is already the largest Marine Corps training facility in the world.

The Marine Corps wants to expand its base at 29 Palms. The base is already the largest Marine Corps training facility in the world.

The Navy is inviting public comment on its plans to add 170,000 acres to the training area.

Chris Proudfoot, program manager of land acquisition, said the Marin Corps’ training guidelines now call for enough land and air space to train a Marine Expeditionary Brigade with up to 18,000 members.

“What became very clear to us about five years ago,” Proudfoot said, “ is there’s no way to train a Marine Expeditionary Brigade to be prepared to go into combat operations or support a humanitarian crises oversees before they actually get there. We have such a unique training environment here, because it’s all live fire. We can’t do it anywhere else in the United States.”

Proudfoot said the expansion will allow the military to put three battalion task forces on the ground at once, with four to six aviation squadrons in the air to support them. That will accomplish the goal of allowing them to “train as they fight.”

He said the Marines received almost 19,000 public comments when they floated the plan in 2008. Their preferred alternative now, based on those comments, will allow public access to the recreation areas at least part of the year.

Proudfoot said the noise levels will remain within legal limits, but “there will be new noise coming from an area where there wouldn’t have been bombs exploding previously.”

The BLM currently owns the land. It included the Johnson Vally which is primarily used for off road vehicles, rock hunting and other recreational purposes The Environmental Impact Report says the expansion would have a less than significant impact on public health and safety, air quality, transportation and cultural resources. However it will have significant impacts on recreational use and biological resources.

Public comment closes on May 26th.

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