YumaSun.com - May 5, 2012, By DARREN DARONCO - SUN STAFF WRITER
With talk in Washington, D.C., focusing on downsizing the military, the Arizona Legislature has decided to give citizens the opportunity to preserve the state's military bases through an initiative on November's ballot that would make it easier for the state to transfer its land around military bases to the federal government.
“(SCR 1001) will help prevent encroachment around our bases because it will allow us to swap out land around them,” said Rep. Lynne Pancrazi (D-Yuma), who supported the initiative. “I hope that this bill will protect our bases and keep Arizona as one of the top military states in the nation.”
Pancrazi said the military places various restrictions on the types of activities performed at bases depending on the location of houses and other civilian buildings in the area.
“In the Foothills, houses come right up to County 14th and on the other side is the Barry Goldwater Range,” she said. “When planes fly in for a landing or are doing other (training exercises), they are impacted by how low they can get because of the homes.”
She added that if a base has numerous homes or structures in its vicinity and the restrictions become excessive, that base could be a candidate for the closure list.
“Places like Miramar in San Diego and several other bases have encroachment issues and are totally surrounded by houses,” Pancrazi said. “So this bill will put a buffer around our bases and help prevent that so we aren't being considered for base closures.”
One of the ways SCR 1001 will create this buffer is by expanding language in the current law, which primarily focuses on exchanging land directly near military airports, to include any land that would “assist in preserving and protecting military facilities.”
“Our bases have a huge economic impact on our area,” Pancrazi said. “They employ a large amount of people that live in Yuma and they have the second largest economic (driver) in Yuma County.”
According to Marine Corps Air Station documents, MCAS-Yuma employed 15,446 in 2011 and had an economic impact of approximately $1.3 billion on the Yuma economy. Agriculture was first with a $3.2 billion economic impact on the area while tourism came in third with a $226 million impact.
“And their impact is only going to increase with the F-35s,” Pancrazi said. “So it's really important that we keep our military bases going and not allow them to close.”
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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.