Oregon, Nevada and Idaho conservationists are suing the U.S. Air Force, arguing that expanded low-altitude F-15 fighter jet flights over the Owyhee Canyonlands will harm the “quiet and solitude” of the vast high-desert region.
The three groups who filed the suit Monday are Oregon Natural Desert Association, Friends of Nevada Wilderness and Idaho Conservation League.
They argue that the Air Force decision to “intensify” the F-15 trainings in the Owyhee airspace will increase noise, fire risk and harm habitat across the 7.5 million acres in the far southeastern corner of Oregon stretching into Nevada and Idaho.
“By flying lower than the top of a tall tree, military jets will dramatically increase noise levels and permanently alter the soundscape throughout these rural and wild areas of national significance,” the suit says. “Resulting noise levels and visual intrusions will disturb and harm people who work or recreate outside, along with iconic but imperiled species like bighorn sheep and sage-grouse.”
The Air Force said it considered public comments and conducted an environmental impact review before approving its plan and took steps to reduce harm to the area.
The Air Force “has adopted all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the alternatives selected. However, some adverse impacts cannot be avoided, and could be perceived as adverse or annoying to affected…